Digital technology is supposed to make life easier, but to achieve this there has to be change. One of the biggest changes on the horizon for global mobility involves bringing digital innovation closer to the heart of their function. The Digital Transformation of Global Mobility has already started – are you ready for the journey?

Global mobility functions are already undergoing rapid and permanent change. Once viewed as delivering international assignment services to globally mobile employees, over the last few years global mobility professionals have been asked to help lead the digital transformation that is reshaping organizations worldwide. Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital trends survey results suggest that these changes for organizations will be most notable in three main areas:

1. Digital workforce

Global Mobility professionals will need to respond to a global workforce infused with “digital DNA”. Assignees have an expectation that technology will simplify and speed up processes, managers will assume that there will be greater visibility and accountability and the business will expect more in-depth reporting. Services that are not provided digitally will require extensive justification.

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2. Digital workplace

HR teams involved in Global Mobility must adapt to a working environment that enables productivity and uses innovative technologies and engaging communication tools to promote engagement, enhance collaboration, and create a sense of purpose.

3. Digital mobility

Organizations will challenge the Global Mobility function to operate in a digital way, and respond to digitally mobile employees. Tracking compliance of employees who can work anywhere is just one of the challenges to face – explaining that you don’t know where your employee is working from is not an answer tax investigators will accept!

Global Mobility leaders are now being pushed to take on a rapidly changing role to help drive the digital transformation of their organization and function. Global Mobility professionals are expected to play many roles to meet the expectations of the changing workforce and business leaders.

Global mobility function’s new roles

The role of global mobility professionals has already changed, and digital transformation brings even greater change. We are now seeing a new generation of emerging core roles.

ROLE 1 – Experience designer

To pick up and use design thinking at the heart of everything the Global Mobility function
does. There is a need to be targeted in terms of core talent personas and ensure a fantastic experience.

ROLE 2 – Engagement architect

This role exists to drive the recommitment of employees’ hearts and minds at a time of significant uncertainty through the use of innovation and digital technologies.

ROLE 3 – Digital pioneer

Finally, a tasking designed to help people understand and tap into emerging digital technologies that can enable efficient and effective delivery of strategies and programs.

Further reading

How Strategic is your Global Mobility Function?

New tools for digital transformation

New roles also need a brand-new set of professional tools to tackle Global Mobility’s challenges:

  • Automation

Robotics technology can provide new cost-cutting opportunities that also improve productivity and increase talent retention. Automation software can take on mundane human administrative tasks and allow their human counterparts time to focus on high-value tasks for the benefit of the mobility function.

  • Workplace tools

As well as document sharing, software that allows collaboration between remote locations, IP based phone systems that create an easy to use ‘global switchboard’, and simple-to-use video conferencing, today’s “digital learning” platforms mean that staff do not necessarily need to leave the office to attend a training course, participate in a meeting or complete essential documentation.

  • Artificial intelligence

Advancements in cognitive technologies, artificial intelligence, and data analytics, are helping organizations go beyond traditional ways of managing a global workforce by using smart machines to detect, predict, and prevent risks in moving people around the globe. Autonomic computing combines automation and cognitive technologies to make systems self-managing – and potentially self-defending against risks.

Where is Global Mobility heading?

Successful businesses in the future will need to be bold and embrace additional skills, including digital know how, digital creativity, entrepreneurship, and the benefits of the digital ‘modern learning’ culture.

While individuals are quick to embrace changes and advances in technology like smartphone apps and cloud computing, organizations are less sure about how to harness the power of these advanced technologies.

Global Mobility professionals that fail to react to digital transformations happening around them will play a major part in pushing their business towards extinction. Change is hard but being behind a wave of change and trying to catch up is even harder.

This digital revolution will undoubtedly disrupt traditional roles while creating new ones in Global Mobility, so it would be ironic if the Global Mobility team’s failure to respond to digital transformations endangered the employees trusted to their curation.

Successful businesses in the future will need to be bold and embrace additional skills, including digital know-how, digital creativity, entrepreneurship, and the benefits of the digital ‘modern learning’ culture.

Change is coming. The question is will Global Mobility fear it, or face and embrace it. Only one of these paths leads to a bright future for the Global Mobility function of any business.