Technology and Relocation: What to Expect in 2019

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Matt Dickerson
The consumerization of corporate technology is transforming the mobility industry.  Challenged to deliver the same kind of app-driven, user-friendly technology experience consumers have long enjoyed, relocation companies like SIRVA have responded by deploying next-generation systems that deliver a level of client service and real-time mobility analytics previously unknown to the industry. Our goal, and the goal of every organization should be to make their employees’ technology experience the same in their 9 to 5 hours as in their 5 to 9.

The best technology strategies go beyond a focus on customer satisfaction, cost reduction, or revenue to also address complex regulatory compliance demands such as those posed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Organizations today must translate and embed the requirements of GDPR and other such regulations deeply into their technology systems or risk paying significant financial penalties.

Top Technology Issues in 2019

A number of technology trends will impact the relocation industry in the coming year, issues that mobility managers and HRIT leaders should monitor as they seek to employ information technology strategies that help drive compliant, cost-efficient and customer-pleasing relocation processes.

Ongoing Need for GDPR Compliance

One of the biggest issues of 2018 isn’t going away and will continue to demand the attention of relocation companies and their clients. GDPR went into effect last May and requires that companies doing business in the European Union significantly upgrade their data and privacy protection standards to meet new legal requirements.
SIRVA was well prepared for the arrival of this robust new data privacy law, having already taken many of the mandated steps for processing, storing and securing sensitive personal information. Those steps included ensuring ISO certification and SOC 2 audit standards for data security and privacy and later appointing a chief data privacy officer. Our IT environment is fully equipped to meet customers’ data privacy requirements under the GDPR. The stakes here are clearly high, as fines for GDPR non-compliance can be as much as 4 percent of a company’s total global revenue.
GDPR continues to be a hot topic around the globe as it affects more countries offering goods and services to individuals in the European Union. I was recently in Singapore conducting a client round table session and much of the discussion centered around data privacy laws in that country as well as in Malaysia, which is now considering adopting a framework similar to GDPR.

Conversational Interfaces Come to Relocation Management

Mobility clients and their assignees can now use the workplace equivalents of Siri and Alexa to ask their most pressing relocation questions and receive instant answers. Natural language processing technology has come to the relocation industry, meaning clients no longer will face some of the delays or challenges inherent in using web-based interfaces, e-mail or other legacy approaches in getting their questions answered promptly and accurately. 

SIRVA is piloting a conversational interface that will eventually allow mobility managers to ask questions about issues like real-time relocation expenses, the status of assignee moves, to gain access to certain files or documents and much more. SIRVA’s Connect Mobility platform, among the most comprehensive in the industry, also is accessible via voice assistant as well as through more traditional communication avenues.

Accelerating Use of Mobile Self-Service Technology

Mobility clients will continue to deploy mobile-enabled self-service tools at a high rate to give assignees and mobility managers easier, 24/7 access to key relocation information and status updates. According to the 2018-2019 Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey, 78 percent of survey respondents currently use some form of employee self-service application, a number projected to rise to 87 percent by the end of 2019.

SIRVA plans to soon release its own next-generation self-service product called iMOVE. The application features cutting-edge technology wrapped in a modern user experience that’s targeted to the underserved Lump Sum population. iMOVE has an intuitive interface with rich content that will allow assignees to do things like compare homes and schools, book moving services or conduct expense reporting directly from their mobile devices. 

Moving forward in 2019 we’ll continue to address the needs of our clients by providing high-tech tools like iMOVE and Connect Mobility where those options make the most sense to improve transactional efficiency or client convenience. We believe that technology should always be an enhancement to customer service and not a replacement for it. By providing our clients and their employees with technology when they want it and a caring consultant when they need it, we’re following a proven formula for all stakeholders to best meet the relocation opportunities and challenges that the future will bring.