Guest using chatbots on a mobile app to check in on a mobile device.

Chatbots Simplify Hotel Operations and Transform Guest Experience

It may sound like something out of an episode of The Jetson’s but AI (yes, this includes actual robot assistants, like The Jetson’s beloved Rosie), particularly in the form of chatbots, is making frequent appearances in the hospitality industry. The goal? To improve the guest experience through more efficient internal communication with digital workforce solutions.

This year’s AAHOA Annual Conference takes note of this growing hospitality trend with a seminar, “Technology To Improve Housekeeping and Maintenance Efficiency,” featuring Dorothy Creamer, Editor, Hospitality Technology; Micah Green, Founder, Maidbot; David Mitroff, Founder and CBC, Piedmont Avenue Consulting; and Raman Rama, President, Sarona Holdings. The seminar focuses on how hotel owners can leverage the latest digital workforce products and services to simplify and improve hotel operations to enhance the guest experience and ultimately drive occupancy rates.

How Digital Communication Tools Help Increase Bookings


According to a study of travel review sites conducted by Christopher Andersen, Ph.D, Assistant Professor at the Cornell School for Hotel Administration, higher occupancy rates are directly linked to how high a hotel’s reviews and ratings are. Specifically, the study analyzed Travelocity data that demonstrated that if a property increases its review scores by 1 point on a 5-point scale, the hotel can raise rates and still maintain the same occupancy.

Notably, Anderson’s findings point to social media as a powerful ally when it comes to consumer booking habits and to making sure a curious browser goes through with booking a room in your hotel. More broadly, these findings reflect an equally important insight: the way we navigate and complete much of the tasks in our personal and professional daily lives revolves around digital technology and informs our expectations of consumer experiences.

Exterior of a hotel showing four stars.

Fast Mobile Search Experiences Matter


The access to and ease-of-use of digital technology, particularly when it comes to mobile devices, affects purchase follow-through. A 2017 Think with Google study showed that if a website takes longer than three seconds to load, 53% of consumers will leave the site and conversion is lost. Put simply, with the vast, instant access to information digital technology provides, consumers aren’t afraid to take the time to compare lodging options—otherwise known as ‘shopping around’—and are using consumer opinions to inform their transactions.

AI and Chatbots: Partners in Providing an Exceptional Guest Experience


Far from worrying about frontline workforce replacement, those working in the hospitality industry should view AI, especially chatbots, as valuable communication tools that can boost productivity and enable frontline employees to focus on their primary priority: an exceptional guest experience.

A hotel’s consumer ratings and reviews will always reflect guest experiences, for better or for worse. The benefits of AI assistance in the form of chatbots are two-fold for your digital workforce, and have far-reaching, positive implications for the hospitality industry. Increased service efficiency means better delivery of a memorable guest experience, leading to brand loyalty and thus greater occupancy rates.

Here are some of the major hospitality service areas that impact the guest experience that can directly benefit from chatbots and AI automated operations using digital workforce communication tools. For example, your hotel can implement a custom mobile app that guests can download to enhance their stay in relationship to the following hospitality experiences:

  • Room service: Chatbots can virtually take the in-room orders of guests. Chatbots can be programmed to ask a variety of detailed questions to ensure your guests get exactly what they need (like specific condiments on their sandwich, or extra ice in their water) and can even schedule delivery.
  • Guest check-in and check-out: One of the most useful applications of a chatbot is as a virtual booking agent. Chatbots can send reminders to guests regarding the details of their stay, such as check-in and check-out times, and augment them if necessary based on guest requests (for example, extra pillows or special food or beverage items to be in-room upon arrival).
  • Maintenance requests: When a guest encounters an in-room issue, such as a burned-out light bulb or a broken appliance, chatbots can field guest issue reporting so repairs can be made quickly.
  • Special requests: From wake-up calls, “do not disturb” notifications, or delivery of extra towels or toiletries, chatbots can handle instantaneous communication of many of the most common guest requests. Instead of picking up the phone and calling the front desk, guests submit requests with one click using the mobile app. Hospitality teams receive automated notifications of these requests directly, and can complete them more quickly and efficiently.
  • Concierge services: Think of a chatbot as a 24/7 virtual local guide to the best food and entertainment options in the area, including on-premise dining and events. Chatbots can be set with the day or week’s latest events and promotions. Best of all, with your hotel app, guests can consult the chatbot concierge at their convenience, whether in their hotel room or on-the-go.

Screen shot of a hotel guest reporting a maintenance issue on a mobile device.

This is all good news for the hotel industry, which is already uniquely profitable and, according to hospitality experts, is poised to experience even higher occupancy rates in 2018. Loyal customers will continue to patronize a hotel property even when rates increase because they are loyal to the guest experience you have created.

With the help of chatbots and a digital workforce app like Beekeeper, guest services that previously commanded substantial staff time and energy can be automated. When tasks like these are delegated to digital technology, your workforce is free to assist with more complex guest needs and requests that require face-to-face interactions.

To see how chatbots and AI can increase hospitality revenue, download our white paper, “Digitization of the Non-desk Workforce.”



Embracing the Digital Transformation and Digital Culture

Embracing the Digital Transformation and Digital Culture

Is your business ready to pivot from traditional workplace communications in the age of digital transformation? Current digital workplace trends require that businesses have policies in place that address the increasing emphasis on technology and organizational agility if they want to remain profitable. Digital culture is constantly changing, and digital workplace solutions need to keep up.

For example, a pro-active, leadership-led approach to team communications positions your company to not just respond to, but also anticipate these changing workplace trends. Some of these trends include innovative ways to manage remote workers and foster employee engagement.

Teams need to be ready to perpetually reinvent themselves, and having a few examples of effective digital workplace solutions can be helpful to stay competitive and digitally savvy.

Digitizing Internal Communication With Grace

Keeping up with digital workplace trends means implementing digital workplace solutions as rapidly as the need for them is identified. This could mean adopting a team communication app that can handle all of your team’s organizational needs in one platform. It could also mean changing hiring practices to emphasize different digital channels than HR was working with previously.

beekeeper team communication app

The other side of the digitization coin is companies will need to proactively look for digital workplace solutions to solve issues they might not even realize they have. With the power of information technology, the workplace is becoming more streamlined and more extensible than people imagine. By constantly browsing solutions, companies can stay on the cutting edge of digitization rather than struggling to catch up. This is a fundamental change in workplace culture.

How is Workplace Culture Changing?

Digital workplace trends increasingly emphasize connectivity between different elements of the same company, as well as increasing integration of customers via CRM (customer relationship management). Employees need to communicate with and share information no matter where they are geographically, and customers want more and more updates on their deliverables.

Likewise, digital workplace trends like remote working and ubiquitous social media use make work a bit less formal than before. HR departments can make a good impression on their employees by thinking ahead about remote working policies rather than waiting for problems to occur. Thankfully, digitization makes HR’s job much easier as personnel management dashboards can manage employee onboarding, and disseminate relevant information from one centralized location.

Vertical Integration Of Workplace Digitization

More and more, a company’s leadership is in greater communication with their entire team, as well as in horizontal communication with other companies’ management. This means leaders in the digital era are exposed to more perspectives and information than ever before. Businesses looking to improve their bottom line will implement strategies which help executives and employees alike prioritize and manage information. Focusing on a business’ core performance indicators is one simple way to make sure that only the most important information is analyzed.

Managing Employee Engagement During Digitization

Digitization strategies need to involve more than tracking performance metrics, though. Businesses also need to check in more frequently with their employees to make sure their needs are being met while ensuring the pace of solution implementation is making staff more efficient rather than less.

As always, businesses that show agility in their business model and compassion for their employees will maintain a competitive edge and remain relevant in the era of digital transformation.

Download our white paper to learn how to digitize your workforce with an internal communications platform.



Digital Transformation Trends From the World Economic Forum

Digital Transformation Trends From the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting just ended and I’m excited to share the insights I gained about the digital transformation and the future of mobility. I was invited to attend two sessions that relate to topics we frequently discuss at Beekeeper and drive our product evolution.

First, here’s a little background about the event in case you aren’t familiar. The World Economic Forum (WEF), a Swiss non-profit foundation, was established in 1971 to improve global affairs “by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.” The forum is best known for its annual meeting at the end of January which brings together more than 3,000 top business leaders, international political leaders, economists, journalists, and even celebrities for four days to discuss the most pressing issues worldwide.

Below are some of the key digital transformation trends from the events I attended:

The Future of Mobility

Since I studied Computer Science at ETH Zurich, I was especially eager to attend their private event about the future of mobility. Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, CEO of Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) Andreas Meyer, Vice President for Research and Corporate Relations at ETH Dr. Detlef Günther, and ETH President Lino Guzzella announced an exciting mobility partnership.

ETH Future of Mobility event

ETH Zurich is partnering with SBB to launch the ETH Mobility Initiative that will invest 100 million over the next ten years in mobility research and teaching. The purpose is to make better use of the existing railway infrastructure. In fact, Meyer stated, “Our goal is to get up to 30 percent more capacity from the existing rail network.” Using SBB’s traffic and passenger data, experts from ETH will use their models to calculate optimal traffic flow. By analyzing all the data and deriving trends, they plan on making public transportation much more efficient by utilizing digital mobility. SBB is a prime partner because they have the resources to put ETH’s research into practice quickly.

The Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence

Hirzel. Neef. Schmid. Konsulenten and CEBIT organized an event to share insights about strengthening cooperation — the official theme of the WEF this year. Speakers focused on the digital transformation, including machine learning, AI, and how to use digital to bring people together and combat fragmentation. Following the keynote, they held a panel discussion with Martin Ott, Managing Director Central Europe at Facebook, Danilo Bertocchi, Enterprise Sales Manager at Tesla, and Jürgen Schmidhuber, Scientific Director at IDSIA.

Digitization opens the door to endless possibilities to create a more connected and efficient world, both in the personal and professional sense. With the intersection of AI and machine learning, we can attain so much data that can help improve both the employee and customer experience. However, the biggest problem is the lack of support and education surrounding this topic.

Beekeeper CTO Flavio with robot

To reap the benefits of digitizing your workforce, you need to empower your teams with the right education and tools. In the Q&A session, an attendee asked Ott how he will help digitize subject matter experts. The discussion made evident that everyone has a different understanding of digitization and there is a great need for management to become more knowledgeable on the topic. Most executive teams don’t know what to do with new digital tools, how to use them, or even why they need them.

He explained how Facebook aims to use digital to build communities and create a more open, connected world. The social media powerhouse is constantly developing resources to aid in the digital transformation. Online tutorials, courses, community hubs , etc. are all part of their strategy to educate users.

Beekeeper’s Role in the Digital Transformation

Connecting people is of course at the very core of what we do at Beekeeper, but the idea of educating and supporting your customers to help them achieve the change needed to digitize their workforce and fully benefit from the digital tools they have at their disposal also really resonated with me.

We talk to customers on a daily basis who have been sold various software tools, but because they don’t get the right support to sell the benefits at each level of the organization or educate users on how to optimize existing processes with the new tools, adoption often fails. This is why, at Beekeeper, we have focused on developing a wide range of high-quality resources to help customers be successful in adopting our product.

Our Customer Success team knows each customer’s challenges and objectives and support them every step of the way. From understanding how Beekeeper can help them reach their goals to ensuring every single employee has access to information about the product and how to use it. We also have our own suite of digital resources, in the form of a Help Center and e-learning courses, to enable customers to learn in their own time and always have the information they need on hand.

We know that to achieve our own goal of shaping digital workplaces for 2 billion frontline employees, we must act as a partner rather than a provider.

To learn more about the digital transformation with the Beekeeper team app and how it will benefit your business, download our free white paper on the topic.



Header image copyright by World Economic Forum / Walter Duerst

Top 5 Hospitality Trends in 2018

Top 5 Hospitality Trends in 2018

Hospitality is one of the most competitive industries, so staying up-to-date with trends and finding ways to stand out from the competition is paramount.

Whether you head management at a five-star hotel or are a server at an up and coming vegan restaurant, here are the top 5 hospitality trends to pay attention to in 2018.

1. Bleisure is Booming

As millennials continue to be a hot target demographic, the hospitality industry is working hard to cater to this customer base. Expect to see a continued interest in bleisure, also known as business travel mixed with leisurely travel.

For young professionals, bleisure is the perfect opportunity to take an extended vacation after a week of mandatory meetings and networking mixers (kind of a “kill two birds with one stone” attitude). Not only do these extended vacations help keep hotels full and dinner reservations booked, but a happy millennial in vacation mode is also more likely to spend money on other amenities. It’s a win-win for every category within the hospitality industry so be sure to utilize resources properly and take advantage of it.

2. Smart Rooms

With more people using voice-activated devices in their homes, it’s only natural to use these same devices to make rooms more “smart.” The lights, temperature, and other features in a hotel room can be difficult to figure out and smart rooms alleviate that nuisance.

smart rooms

Adding a voice-activated device like a Google Home or Amazon Echo can eliminate the risk of a poor Yelp rating or a middle-of-the-night complaint to the front desk. The guest can control specific functions of the room, just like at home.

According to The Wynn Las Vegas, over 4,700 of their rooms will be equipped with an Amazon Echo to help guests control things like lighting and temperature with ease. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing rooms with “smart” beds that can determine whether or not a guest is asleep or awake and heat or light a room accordingly.

3. Simple and Healthy Food

While there will always be a special place for deep fried appetizers and 1,000 calorie desserts, more adults who frequent restaurants and hotels are making a more serious commitment to healthy eating.

If your menu showcases one vegetarian item or your continental breakfast bar has a bowl of fruit, you’ll have to try a little bit harder to impress the over 70 percent of adults who prefer to eat something healthy if it’s available.

Have you been hoping for an opportunity to offer a vegan menu or want to exclusively serve food that has been grown within a 100-mile radius? Whether you own a food truck or a well-established restaurant, 2018 is a great time to “wow” your clientele with healthy choices that go far beyond the fruit plate option.

4. Hotels with Character

Some travelers are completely content to stay in a standard room with minimal amenities, but if you’re offering very little, the price tag must match.

People who pay for a hotel room, whether it’s at a chain or a small boutique hotel, want a place with character and unique features. While hotel bars may seem a little “hokey” and outdated, don’t be surprised if we start seeing more places that have a 24/7 “grab n’ go” eatery or an art museum or theater attached to the hotel.

Even if your guests are only staying for eight hours, they should have access to the same variety as someone who stays for two nights.

5. An Increase in AI Presence

Depending on who you talk to, artificial intelligence (AI) is either met with excitement or skepticism and worry. While there are many industries that will eventually be dominated by AI, the hospitality industry isn’t likely to go full-automation.

Many businesses within the hospitality industry have begun to incorporate some friendly robots to help out with some of the housekeeping and other tasks that don’t require a lot of face-to-face interaction. AI will ultimately help the customer experience by improving the quality of any person-to-person exchanges.

Automation is not meant to threaten a booming industry but rather keep it streamlined, error-free, and keep it doing what it does best; striving to make the customer experience the best possible.

If you’re looking for more ways to keep your hospitality business booming, download our white paper about how to improve internal communications in your hospitality business with the Beekeeper team app.



Talking Hospitality Trends With Industry Leader, Bruce Ford

Talking Hospitality Trends With Industry Leader, Bruce Ford

As America’s Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) quickly approaches, we caught up with Bruce Ford, Senior VP of Lodging Econometrics (LE) and a long-time member of the ALIS committee, who shared his expert hospitality insights from 2017 and what changes we can expect in 2018.

About Bruce Ford

Bruce is a recognized expert in lodging market intelligence and development trends, with in-depth knowledge of global markets and brands. LE is the leading lodging industry consulting partner for global real estate intelligence. At LE, Bruce identifies new construction and product placement opportunities for vendors looking to increase their product distribution in the lodging industry and improve their market share. He also advises on new construction and potential brand conversion opportunities for franchise companies looking to accelerate their brand growth.

Bruce is a featured speaker on global real estate trends at several industry conferences worldwide. In the past year alone, he has appeared as an industry expert on six different development and real estate panels. In addition, he has served on the Allied Member Executive Committee within the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and, as a member of the ALIS committee, helps select the “Development Project of the Year Award.”

Q&A About Hospitality Trends

He graciously took the time to share his expertise on growth, high occupancy rates, and trends in the hospitality industry with us.

1. Tell me about Lodging Econometrics and your role there.

LE is a 20+ year old hospitality real estate company that tracks new hotels being built around the world, as well as projects that occur at existing hotels, whether they’re renovations, conversions, or hotel transactions. We maintain a database of every open and operating hotel across the globe. The primary method of delivery is through hosting an online database solution through lodgingeconometrics.com.

That offers the opportunity for people participating in owning, managing, franchising, and selling products to the hospitality industry to access information that’s updated and refreshed every seven days. We’ve been hosting online for about five years. We work with clients that franchise hotels, consult on hotels, do feasibilities about hotels, sell products to hotels, or own and operate and/or manage hotels in all regions of the world. I’m the leader of the global sales team so I spend time on the road in international marketplaces working with large global companies.

2. What’s your affiliation with ALIS?

At the ALIS Conference, we are the chair people for the “Development Project of the Year Award.” Each year we help identify the best projects that open newly constructed hotels throughout the United States. We hand out two awards at the ALIS Conference, one for the best full-service new construction and one for the new select service project that opened in 2017. We manage that process for the “Development Project of the Year Award.” We’ve attended the conference all the way back to when it was the UCLA Hotel Investment Conference.

3. How do you help clients with their growth goals?

Many of my clients are looking for business development opportunities. Whether it’s a franchise company looking for developers to build their brand of hotels, or a product supplier looking for new owners to sell their products to. Or maybe it’s a designer looking for owners seeking design services. People who want to grow their business and grow their profile on hospitality call Lodging Econometrics to find those opportunities.

4. Which hospitality segment do you predict will have the most growth?

In terms of growth, you can really track that in two ways—the first being profitability growth in terms of RevPAR (revenue per available room) growth. This would be the measure that people look at chain scales of the upper midscale. The upscale chain scales have been leading in terms of RevPar growth, mostly because they continue to open new hotels. In those two chain scales, many people think the higher end market ADR is reaching its peak. I would say from a percentage-based growth on the RevPar outlook, upscale will have the highest rate of growth this year.

From a global pipeline perspective, in terms of number of rooms that are scheduled to open this year, the upscale chain scales will have the most rooms open in 2018. In the upscale chain scale scheduled openings for 2018, there are 755 new hotels and 125,595 guest rooms. That will be the biggest growth from a rooms perspective this year. That’s adding 125,000 guest rooms on an existing supply of 3.3 million guest rooms worldwide.

5. What are the secrets to keeping occupancy rates high?

In the hotel business right now, we’re actually running at historically high rates of occupancy. A little bit different from some other industries, the hotel industry is actually profitable. The average hotel is profitable with 55% occupancy, and today nationally we’re at about 65%. We’re experiencing some historical highs for any given calendar year. We may even be as high as 68% right now.

Establishing the right kind of rate management is a top priority for a hotel owner. The goal isn’t necessarily to sell out every night. The goal is to be able to continue to raise the rates as your percentage of occupancy increases. Say you have a hotel with 100 rooms and you sell 70 of them at an average daily rate of $100. Every room you sell past 70 you want to charge a 30% premium over what you charged for the first 70. So you’re able to get a premium rate for those last 30 keys.

6. What major hospitality trends can we expect in 2018?

2017 was probably better than most people expected. Going into 2017, the theory was we were going to have 2 to 3% RevPar growth. This year we’re most likely going to beat that. Some of that is the result of some unfortunate natural disasters like the hurricanes that drove some unexpected occupants and revenue. On a more positive note, the economy is doing a bit better than most people expected at the beginning of the year, so that has continued to improve demand in and around the hotel industry. The trend still seems to be positive.

In regard to operating performance growth for 2018, expect another up RevPAR year. We’ll continue to see more mergers and acquisitions this year in the hotel business. There were some pretty notable transactions in 2017. For example, the Red Lion and Vantage acquisition was a big transaction. Wyndham also purchased American, and I think we’ll continue to see those big types of buyouts occur.

Marriott’s stock got up to 57% last year. That can definitely power some investments because there is so much market cap to work with. To that point, Marriott purchasing Starwood has driven incredible growth in that stock. That’s likely to ebb off a little bit as a 57% growth cannot be matched. The stock market will likely begin to trickle back a little bit, but I don’t think that will stop merger and acquisition investments. Those will continue as new construction progresses and will grow again in 2018. In 2017 in the United States we opened about 107,000 rooms and this year we’re scheduled up to 130,000. That indicates supply growth is coming for sure with an increase year over year that should be of note, but still not overwhelming to property owners and management companies.

For more information about hospitality trends, unified communications, and improving internal communications and operations in your hotel, download our white paper “Digitization of the Non-Desk Workforce.”



Top 5 Digital Transformation Trends in Manufacturing for 2018

Top 5 Digital Transformation Trends in Manufacturing for 2018

If you thought your digital workplace was at the peak of innovation, 2018 will deliver plenty of surprises. As you’ll soon find out, digital transformation is an ongoing process that moves swiftly as new technology emerges. Surprisingly, 47% of companies haven’t even begun their digital transformation process. By keeping up with the trends, you’re already at an advantage.

These top 5 digital transformation trends offer your manufacturing business not just insight, but tangible means of transforming your business in more ways than one. From handheld tools to improve employee productivity to means of streamlining processes along the assembly line, the transformation goes beyond digital.

Integrated Workflows

In today’s competitive global economy, integration is key to ensuring efficient workflows. While each component or department of the business can function independently, you can optimize those functions by integrating tasks and information. Sticking with conventional communication methods like email or voice calls limits the amount of data you can share and the means through which you can send it.

By connecting every employee through an internal communication system, preferably platforms that allow for sharing of information via not just text, but media as well, teams share their skills and knowledge with their peers. Research shows that connectivity helps reduce turnover and increase employee satisfaction, and active internal communication helps.

Ensuring that groups of employees on the production line know what’s happening on the information technology side, or keeping marketing teams in the loop when it comes to software changes in customer-facing settings are only two examples of how integrating workflows benefits business.

Mobile Collaboration

The majority of manufacturing employees don’t work at a desk or don’t even have a corporate email address. Ergo, the bulk of collaboration can’t happen on a desktop device. Technology can have a significant effect on non-desk employee productivity, so making that tech accessible should be a priority for businesses. Mobile collaboration apps give employees more ways to connect, keeping information current and ideas flowing.

Because most employees already have personal devices with internet connectivity, you may avoid substantial rollout costs by allowing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) practices. Even for large companies that require corporate devices across multiple departments, investing in the technology now keeps you a step ahead as the digital transformation forces other companies to follow suit.

Internal communications improve efficiency by making peers accessible to one another, but mobile collaboration apps also promote safety. Disseminating critical information to employees via mass message campaigns guarantees employees receive the details they need when they need it.

Machine Learning & AI

From robots piecing together components on the assembly line to machines that scan parts for defects, technology has come a long way from rudimentary programming concepts. Today’s robots have Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities, meaning they’re learning right alongside your teams.

Strides in programming abilities translate into more accessible user experiences with advanced technology, allowing you internal control and review of data. Incorporating machine learning into your business even reduces the need for outsourcing, since bots can complete many tasks that human workers can.

Adding chatbots to your processes can alleviate strain on human staffers responding to customer inquiries. Precision scanning machines allow staff to focus on other tasks while bots manage quality control. Freeing up your skilled employees to perform more complicated tasks heightens productivity as bots take care of the behind-the-scenes details.

Plus, with advancements in today’s tech, consumers either won’t notice the automation or the faster route to resolution will cancel out potential frustration at conversing with a computer.

HR chatbot

Analytics

Between production statistics and sales figures, you’re already dealing with a lot of numbers. But tracking all matter of analytics from employee behavior to manufacturing output will highlight ways to improve processes and training across the company.

When you incorporate integrated workflows, mobile collaboration, and analytics in your digital workplace, a mountain of data gives insight on how well things are running. By evaluating those figures, you’re able to streamline the steps in your manufacturing process to increase profits and reduce costs.

Employee analytics can spotlight production opportunities you may have missed. Noting times when employee productivity is at its peak may influence changes in daily scheduling, and lags in productivity may indicate potential for diverting resources to other projects. Overall, the more information the better, both in terms of profit and your people.

IoT

The Internet of Things, or IoT, defines the intricate network of computers, machines, objects, and people that transfer data digitally. Beyond the Web, interconnectivity extends to handheld devices, wearables, sensors, and more.

In the manufacturing industry, your production robots may have sensors or software that send information to remote teams. Employee apps might track who’s working and when. There are endless ways the IoT transmits information and promotes efficiency company-wide.
Beyond chatting machine-to-machine, the IoT lets employees contribute data to organizational compilations through both personal feedback and workflow-based analytics. While current figures peg IoT devices around 20.35 billion currently, projections for 2025 indicate that IoT connected devices will exceed 75.44 billion worldwide.

That means your digital workplace will only keep expanding, and keeping up-to-date with advances has the potential to transform your workflow and put your company on the path toward higher profits and lower costs.

To see how Beekeeper’s internal communication and employee app digitally transformed manufacturing company Seaboard Foods, download the case study.



5 Important Trends in Operations Management in 2018

Beekeeper is the team communication tool that helps businesses connect their digital workforce to benefit from improved unified communications, employee connections, and internal communications.

In the global market, companies are right to focus on trends in operations management and strategies for getting ahead in their respective industries. While technology almost seems to change too quickly to pinpoint at times, modern developments mean more ways to enhance business operations and increase profits.

Whether you’re aiming for an organizational overhaul to become more competitive in your market or merely seeking to cut down on costs of everyday business, these 5 trends may deliver the results you need to meet your operations management goals in 2018.

Get a free demo of Beekeeper here to see how you can improve your internal team communications for desk and mobile staff throughout your organization.

Internal Communications

Satisfied employees work harder and invest more in your company, but how can business owners encourage employee satisfaction? Promoting internal communication is a helpful first step. Peer to peer communication can enhance workplace morale and improve project outcomes, regardless of your industry. Further, collaboration gleans optimal results on any project when great minds come together.

At the same time, 39% of employees in one survey said that people in their organization didn’t collaborate enough. Addressing those concerns makes your company more competitive and caters to internal employees who may feel overlooked.

Internal communication and mobile collaboration platforms don’t just increase efficiency—they also contribute to positive employee outcomes. Working together, whether through mobile collaboration or in person, promotes productivity and develops relationships between team members.

Mobile Accessibility

Whether you’re in the technology industry and rely on mobile devices to achieve sales targets, or you’re in the hospitality business and need client portals to reach your target market, mobile accessibility is vital to the future of operations management.

Apart from today’s reliance on mobile devices for communication, consumers also turn to their smart devices for everything from household goods to travel accommodations to job applications. This means if you’re not mobile, you’re missing out.

At the same time, turning the focus on technology inward in your organization also offers benefits. Establishing outlets for mobile collaboration, whether via an app or the web, lets your employees connect and share information. It also enables you to send out relevant business information as needed, bypassing email or hard copy methods of sharing information.

Mobile accessibility for staff means remote access to information, tools, and connectivity regardless of their role within the organization. For non-desk workers without email access or an office, remote information sharing is a necessity. Mobile collaboration fills that need while addressing other operations management concerns at the same time.

Automatization

Automating processes throughout your business can save money and increase efficiency when it comes to all areas of operations management. Online reservation services, automated chatbots, inline translation functions, and mobile hotel check-in features are only a handful of examples of business dependency on technology.

By dedicating machines to specific business tasks, companies are freeing up employee time for focusing on their products and their customers. Rather than assigning an employee to monitor the company website and answer the same questions multiple times, programming a chatbot to respond to FAQs saves company time and resources.

But automatization goes beyond your company’s internet presence. Automatic delivery of media campaigns, calendar alerts with schedule changes, and read-receipt functions add automatic convenience to daily processes.

Performance Measurement

Detailed analytics give companies a baseline for implementing changes in areas from development and production to customer service. With metrics solutions that deliver comprehensive measurements, business owners can make informed decisions regarding business practices moving forward.

Not only are companies able to track website performance and on-site sales, they can also zero in on employee productivity and communication. Mobile collaboration apps allow organizations to see which employees are actively engaged in collaboration, and which may require encouragement or assistance.

Engagement Dashboard

Employee Analytics

Beyond sales figures-based analytics, employee feedback and surveys can also contribute to better business overall. On the face of it, operations management may appear to span only materials and products, but people are an essential component of any business structure.

Acknowledging employees on a personal level as well as based on their work performance helps create a sense of community within organizations, and keeping the line of communication between staff and superiors is an excellent way to track team vitals.

Developing surveys (and automating their delivery) can also glean feedback from employees in a simple format. Pre-scheduling survey campaigns means you can consistently receive employee feedback at crucial times, without setting up one-on-one meetings to solicit their input.

Outsourcing

When it comes to reducing costs, outsourcing is often on the top of companies’ lists. Contracting with outside agencies or individuals can help companies save money and ensure each task receives the appropriate attention.

In cases where outsourcing is cheaper than hiring additional staff, or when no staff is available to tackle extra projects, companies should have no qualms about accepting outside assistance. However, carefully considering which projects and tasks to outsource helps avoid creating an overly competitive atmosphere among employees and contract workers.

In many cases, specialists in your industry can offer insights and business guidance that no employee on your team could provide. If receiving this outside assistance will save your company from financial disaster, an up-front investment could prove invaluable.

To learn more about improving internal communications, get a free Beekeeper demo now.

Request a free demo with one of our Beekeeper experts


Top 5 HR Trends to Watch in 2018

Top 5 HR Trends to Watch in 2018

With a brand new year just around the corner, HR teams across non-desk industries are exploring new ways to optimize the employee experience and enter Q1 with a bang. While many HR trends are emerging, we’ve noticed a common theme visible throughout emerging HR communications programs, a theme that is of course perhaps our biggest passion as a company: the intersection of HT tech and company culture.

To help you prepare for the new year, we’ve rounded up five types of HR initiatives that are definitely worth exploring to keep employee engagement high throughout 2018.

Corporate Well-Being Programs

In our hyperconnected world, it’s no secret that burnout is a real issue. In fact, Harvard Business Review reports that nearly 50% of employees report frequent or constant exhaustion due to the high stress levels, physical demands, and social isolation of work. A recent study cited a national revenue loss to the tune of $30 billion thanks to stress-induced lost work days. The antidote? Taking an active role in the well-being of your workforce.

By “well-being,” we don’t mean your run-of-the-mill healthcare offerings, though those are important to keep up as well. In 2018, companies are projected to take a larger vested interest in holistic employee satisfaction metrics like quality of sleep, physical fitness, and highly customized content offerings based on data collected from employees over time.

Remote Workforce Technology

While remote teams have been on the rise for the past few years due to the high financial, psychological, and environmental costs of commuting, it is projected that in 2018, the volume of telecommuting will continue to skyrocket. While remote work remained plagued by the “phoning it in” stigma in past decades, ample new data indicates a significant boost in both productivity and overall satisfaction experienced by telecommuters.

Technology has of course also played a critical role in the rise of telecommuting, thanks to VPN (Virtual Private Network) systems that make it easy for employees to access secure work systems from nearly anywhere in the world. For dispersed non-desk teams who spend a portion or the entirety of their shifts in remote locations, the rise of this technology will continue to boost productivity through enhanced connectivity, collaboration, HR tech, and communication tools.

AI Preparation and Trainings

You already know that we’re big on workforce digitization around here, and from the looks of it, there are no signs that this trend will be slowing down in the coming year. The continued rise of predictive analytics and automation technologies will further catapult productivity to new heights, especially for non-desk workers. In particular, 2018 will be a big year for streamlining operations and communications in one virtual space, giving employees quick and easy access to all the tools they need to succeed. Bonus points if this digital hub is accessible from any device, particularly their own.

As artificial intelligence takes on more company tasks, it will also be up to HR departments in 2018 to both ensure that their workforce is properly trained up on the new tech, as well as finding ways to expand or elevate current roles that will be taken on by automated tools. With proper training programs in place, building a successful digital workplace becomes an intuitive tenant of company culture.

Candidate Experience Improvements

In addition to improving conditions for workers internally, savvy HR departments in 2018 will also be looking for ways to optimize the recruiting process through personalized outreach and interviewing tactics, as well as employing quicker response rates through intelligent automated messaging. AI and sentiment analysis technologies will enable HR teams of every size to scale up their recruiting efforts, helping them find the most qualified candidates possible in quicker succession.

In addition to the prospecting phase, there are several budding trends within the interview process. Once candidates are in the interview pipeline, HR managers are using software integrations in increasing numbers to schedule interviews and garner employee feedback quickly. These integrations often link directly into the company’s internal communications platform, meaning employees don’t have to completely disrupt their workflow in order to give substantive feedback about the interview.

Reevaluating Payroll and Scheduling

Thanks to the slow demise of predatory payday lenders and other high-cost cash advance services, many companies, especially those with large hourly workforces, will be looking for ways to digitally deploy earned wages on demand in 2018. Just like the HR software integrations mentioned above, organizations will build payroll software directly into their digital workplace hub so that employees and managers can quickly access pay stubs, tax forms, check deployment, and any other task involving compensation.

Similarly, the use of digitized scheduling will also increase in the coming year. Using digital and mobile scheduling services saves time, minimizes confusion, and make it easy for employees to request time off or swap shifts. Being able to access schedules on demand and on-the-go leads to more mobile, efficient, and productive team communication.

A New Chapter for HR Technology

As the future of work continues to crystallize for the non-desk workforce, the evolution of HR tools will play a crucial role in maintaining employee engagement and satisfaction amidst rapid changes to many industries. While more processes and workflows may be automated or redistributed, the basic human need to feel connected and fulfilled at work will remain an evergreen priority for employees and managers on the front lines.

Want to be at the forefront of these HR trends? Fill out the form below for a free trial of Beekeeper’s HR technology platform.


Improve internal communication trends with the Beekeeper employee app

Internal Communication Trends in 2018

This year, we had the privilege of attending CEB/Gartner’s Internal Communications Summit in London, where business leaders across many industries gathered from around the globe to share internal communication trends to pave the future of workplace correspondence. Over the course of two days, high-level delegates convened to take a dive deep into the various ways in which internal communications will technologically evolve starting in 2018.

ceb internal communications summit

Prevalent throughout the conference was the changing attitude towards the strategic importance of internal communication, with a strong focus on providing outcomes instead of output. This consensus mirrors comments made by research scientists Peter Weill and Stephanie L. Woerner in their 2015 MIT Sloan Management Review feature in which they observed, “Most of the productivity increase seen in organizations nowadays originates – directly or indirectly – from digitization and big data analytics. […] the future of internal communication should be determined by the needs of future employees.”

In recent years, it has become increasingly clear to executives that investing in a centralized digital workspace is a core pillar of fostering employee engagement. When the backbone of an organization is rooted in a rich sense of purpose and positive company spirit, a workforce will be far more likely to perform at their peak to execute upon any deliverables at hand.

2018 Trends With the Biggest Potential Long-Term Impact

Many trends were discussed that will help organizations run smoother and more productive operations.

Mass Digital Migration with Mobile Apps

It is reported that 80% of our time on our mobile devices is spent using an app. With this metric in mind, CEB Summit attendees hypothesize an increasingly widespread adoption of mobile workplace tools that give employees instant access to company news, operations tools, workflows, communication channels, media sharing, and beyond.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Programs

With the rise of mobile communication apps for the workplace comes the expectation that messages will be responded to in real time, or at the very least, in a timely manner. While it is up to your company to establish rules of engagement so that employees don’t burn out or rack up overtime while dealing with off-the-clock internal communications, it’s also important to make the digital workplace app as accessible to all employees as possible. For many, this means using whatever mobile phone is in their possession. It is of critical importance, then, to ensure that the digital workplace provider you find can function on a wide variety of devices.

The Importance of Engagement

Throughout the Summit, the critical importance of fostering high levels of workforce engagement came up again and again. Employee engagement leads to rich company culture, a vested commitment to the success of colleagues, and a sense of pride working for a brand that cares about its people. Summit attendees observed that just as managers value the ability to provide timely and productive performance feedback to their teams in real time, more junior employees value the ability to give bottom-up feedback to the company leaders.

The consensus among conference-goers was that feeling heard helps workers remain connected to their colleagues, and that digital workplace platforms allow workers to meaningfully connect with colleagues that they may not interact with otherwise. Hosting digital interconnectedness within in a robust, well-design multimedia forum is a surefire path to employee satisfaction.

Anticipated Budget Trends for 2018

Throughout the event, many budget trend forecasts for 2018 were brought to light. Despite all the noise around what we may or may not be able to expect to see next year, the four anticipated trends below are certainly ones to watch:

anticipated budget increases

Social Media

Strategic social spend is a great way to stay on top of digital marketing trends. Allocating resources to explore the current roster of popular social apps allows companies to constantly put their best creative foot forward. Thinking long and hard about your company’s public persona will help you further define your key verticals and customer cohorts, ensuring that all digital marketing efforts going forward are supported by hard and fast data.

Employee Communications

As mentioned above, the importance of carving out time and resources to perfect employee communications processes was a common and emphatic sentiment we heard throughout our time at the CEB Summit. Apart from budgeting in resources to procure and onboard the tool itself, it is important to assign a core internal stakeholder to all digital workplace management, troubleshooting, integrations, and useage trainings.

Corporate Website

As SEO and SEM technology continues to iterate quite rapidly, spending time and resources to refresh and perfect web copy, meta tags, and backlinks will likely prove to be a worthy arena of spend for most organizations who rely on e-commerce or digital word-of-mouth in any way. Building a strong visual and written corporate identity will encourage both employees and customers to feel proud of their association with your brand.

Corporate Intranet

Whereas digital experience platforms will become an increasingly important fixture for ensuring employee engagement, maintaining a traditional CMS or intranet hub will continue to be a tried and true method to host more static company assets.

As Maya Angelou noted, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This sentiment echoed throughout all the remarks made by our esteemed colleagues about the communities and cultures they aim to foster within their organizations. We walked away from the Summit feeling more optimistic than ever about the future of internal communications.

At every turn, attendees across the board made it clear that companies must start thinking about how they can expand company correspondence programs and technologies to encourage productivity, community, and mutual respect among their entire workforce population. Budgeting resources and time to onboard new digital tools and analytics will help ensure that employees feel a fundamental connection to the company mission, and to each other.

Since you’re interested in internal communication, download our white paper to learn how to craft a successful internal communication strategy.


top 10 international events for CIOs

Top 10 International Events for CIOs

Although organizations are still recovering from the economic downturn freezing or cutting budgets, they’re regaining strength and global IT spending is expected to increase in the coming years. The economy has started swinging in the right direction, however, there is still a ways to go.

A CIO’s role is more important than ever as digital continues to drive and even replace manual processes. Business goals have changed and CIO’s are tasked with finding emerging opportunities paving the way for the digital transformation.

Topics like ROI, cybersecurity, AI, and collaboration are top of mind for any CIO. To remain at the forefront of innovation and find the latest technology solutions, it’s crucial to attend events with other industry leaders. Finding the right event for your company can be a time-consuming process. That’s why we’ve done the work for you!

Here are the top 10 international events for CIOs:

1. Gartner Symposium/ITxpo

Gartner is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Every year they host the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, specifically designed for CIOs and Senior IT executives. Held on November 5-9 in Barcelona, Spain, 6,000+ Gartner analysts, industry experts, solution providers, CIOs and senior IT executives will discuss the digital transformation and key topics surrounding technology, leadership, and business strategy. Featured speakers include Gartner analysts and business leaders from top companies like Amazon and SAP.

Here you’ll find a wealth of networking opportunities and be able to share best practices across all industries. With 130+ solution providers filling the ITxpo showcase, you’re bound to find solutions that will work perfectly for your team. Perhaps the most valuable and unique benefits are the CIO story sessions and one-on-ones with 140+ Gartner analysts. The CIO story sessions feature CIOs who share practical examples putting their own digital leadership into practice. The one-on-one meetings allow you to get personal, tailored advice and help you explore new ways to approach critical challenges.

2. CIO Summit

The CIO Summit, hosted by CDM Media, is their flagship event where IT leaders and strategists meet to tackle industry challenges and explore developing trends. Happening November 12-14, 2017 at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, Arizona, the CIO Summit agenda offers a balanced schedule of focused educational sessions, keynote speeches, open forums, panel discussions, think tanks, and one-on-one meetings designed to inspire and put theory into action. This is the perfect chance to meet IT executives from industries including, but not limited to, healthcare, telecom, education, finance, and government.

Speakers include CIOs from big names like Volvo, CBS, Mastercard, McKesson and many more. If networking is your game, there’s no lack of networking opportunities, even after the day’s events are over. You can even watch the event’s golf tournament to get better acquainted with attendees. You’ll leave the event with new contacts and ideas to spearhead new IT initiatives.

3. Oracle OpenWorld

Considered the industry’s most important business and technology conference, Oracle OpenWorld has it all, including live performances by Ellie Goulding and Usher. Coming up October 1-5 in the world’s tech capital, San Francisco, CA, at OpenWorld you’ll see tens of thousands of attendees all there to gain valuable insights into trends and leverage the cloud for innovation and growth.

If you’re looking for a huge event rather than an intimate environment, this is the place to be. With more than 2,500 educational sessions led by Oracle customers and partners, you’ll get to hear their first-hand experiences and be inspired to bring learnings back to your own company. Focus areas include app development, AI, customer experience, big data and analytics, IoT, security, IT operations and so much more. After seeing hundreds of demos, interactive labs, and exhibitions, you’ll walk away with new knowledge about cloud technologies and maybe even bring home a new solution for your teams.

4. Intra.NET Reloaded

Intra.NET Reloaded is the perfect place to see how intranets, the digital workplace, and internal communications work together to optimize business processes. The demand for mobile, cloud, and collaboration is growing as businesses scale, and this event aims to prepare for that transition. Everyone who is in the internal communication and digital workplace scene will be there, either in Boston (April 26-27, 2018)or London (November 27-28, 2017).

You’ll walk away with more practical knowledge than you thought possible. Gain insights on how to develop and integrate a customized employee intranet that is both informative and engaging and organize cross-unit collaboration projects. Experts will teach you how to create purposeful and engaging content, find solutions to your intranet challenges, and exchange best practices on how to set up an integrated social collaboration and communication infrastructure. All the skills and contacts you’ll gain will help you transform from a traditional intranet to a successful global digital workplace.

5. Enterprise Mobility Transformation Exchange

If your specific interest is in mobile IT, the Enterprise Mobility Transformation Exchange is for you. This is an invitation-only forum held in both the U.S. and Europe where C-Suite, VPs and Directors of Mobile, IT, Architecture, Field Service, Fleet Management, and Operations will meet to transform IT strategy. (Both event locations have passed this year, so be sure to look out for the 2018 dates.) Here you’ll learn what strategies and solutions other companies are implementing, partake in intimate workshops, and develop business partnerships through interactive networking. All with the aim of managing security risks, productivity, adoption, and innovation in your own company.

The best thing about this forum is that you can build your own agenda by selecting case studies, panel debates, interactive roundtable discussions, and one-on-one meetings that reflect your current priorities. That way, your time is only spent on what will individually benefit you. Be sure to request your invitation well in advance to get a spot!

6. Enterprise Business Collaboration

Collaboration is the glue that holds every successful organization together. It’s impossible to reach your full potential if all the puzzle pieces don’t fit together. If effective collaboration is something your company needs to work on, you should give this event some serious thought. Held at the Hotel Oderberger in Berlin, Germany, the Enterprise Business Collaboration is where 200+ technology, business, and communication professionals come together to discuss challenges and opportunities for mobile, video, social, messaging, and virtualization tools that drive seamless collaboration.

The digital workplace requires just as much collaboration as the physical workplace, if not more. This international knowledge exchange covers content management, digital workplace initiatives, internal IT architecture—all the pieces that enable effective collaboration and dictate processes. Keynote speakers include IT leaders from MIT, NASA, and SIEMENS, and the workshops, briefings, panel discussions, and interactive world cafe sessions are chock-full of information you’ll be excited to bring back to the office. And with the icebreaker session and networking dinner, you’ll finally get to connect with those hard-to-meet executives in a relaxed setting.

7. The European CIO Conference

With only 100 CIOs from large European organizations, the European CIO Conference is the most intimate CIO event you can go to. This two-day meeting November 29-30 at the Dorint Hotel in Wiesbaden, Germany is the annual flagship event put on by the European CIO Association. The “EuroCIO” is the only independent European not-for-profit representative for the large IT users, both private and public.

Not only are CIOs tasked with staying ahead of the ever-evolving IT industry, they also have to think about changing regulations and cybersecurity threats. This event prepares you for the seen and unforeseen challenges facing IT executives that threaten a company’s security and profitability. Workshops include topics about cybersecurity, how business innovation can be supported by IT, artificial intelligence (AI), how to manage IT speed-up, autonomic platforms, GDPR and beyond, and industries 4.0. You’ll walk away armed with knowledge to think strategically and tackle these issues head on.

8. Gigaom AI

AI has been a futuristic subject, but for CIOs, the future has been here for a few years already. It’s their job to use both machine learning and AI to pull ahead of the pack in their industries. Gigaom AI will prepare you for the AI revolution and tell you how to implement AI in your organization so you don’t fall behind. Keep an eye out for the 2018 dates.

As a CIO, you’re probably in charge of spearheading the digital transformation and that definitely includes AI as it’s the quickest way to scale your business. This event is one of the few focused on how AI is used now, how to get started using it, and how to optimize it if you’re already utilizing it. It’s also a good introduction to how other departments will be using AI in the future. AI experts will teach you to be an intelligent machine master, prepare for AI-based shadow IT, and learn how to be competitive using AI and machine learning. Additionally, you can sign up for the hands-on “Using AI” workshop to gain a deeper understanding.

9. ForbesLIVE CIO Summit

ForbesLIVE CIO Summit gives you special access to the world’s most influential leaders, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists. With this collective knowledge and power, you’ll learn how to address critical issues that have been blocking your IT goals and solve them with solutions you’ve never thought of before. Since the event is hosted by Forbes, it’s not surprising the speakers are off the charts: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Sir Richard Branson, just to name a few.

This conference focuses on helping CIOs build their own network of CIOs, CEOs, and VCs to accelerate their path to innovation. It’s an invitation-only event with a limited guest list to maintain an intimate, personalized setting. Request to attend in advance to score a seat!

10. CIO 100

Watch out for the 2018 date because you won’t want to miss this powerful gathering of CIOs and senior IT executives. CIO 100 is an annual conference that offers educational sessions around enterprise mobility, cloud, big data/analytics, social/collaboration tools, risk management, and disruptive technologies. Here you’ll achieve a fresh perspective and start evaluating new solutions to drive your company’s IT initiatives forward.

Included in the conference is the CIO 100 Award Ceremony and CIO Hall of Fame Induction, which honor CIOs who have implemented innovative strategies that greatly impacted their organizations. CIO 100 offers great networking opportunities with industry leaders who have profoundly shaped the IT/business landscape, demonstrating both creative vision and practical leadership in information technology. You’re guaranteed to leave inspired and with business cards from the most prominent men and women in the field.

To learn more about how a digital workplace and collaboration tool like Beekeeper can drive your IT initiatives, fill out the form below to schedule a free personal demo with our app experts.