The future of mobility function has arrived and is undoubtedly here to stay. As we embark upon this new decade with the trends of globalization, digitalization, and transformation moving forward at full throttle, how can we instill a mindset that is focused on refining the skills required to prepare for the transformations to come?

The mobility function is undergoing rapid transformation as a result of the volatile business environments prevailing in today’s marketplace. The key focus is now placed on optimization, the establishment of genuine business partnerships, and the creation of added value aimed at better serving clients.

We can discern four major trends that are poised to exert a significant impact on the future of mobility, which are the changing role of mobility, the flexibility of choice, the employee experience, and cutting‑edge technology. The mobility function is tasked with effectively responding to the changing profiles of its mobile workforce and establishing the degree of flexibility necessary to meet the broad range of employee and business needs. Furthermore, the mobility function is expected to take on the role of a strategic advisor ensuring the efficient performance and completion of transactional tasks. It should be emphasized that the employee experience will remain at the center of focus, as the mobility function must exhibit the exceptional level of agility needed to attract and retain talent by way of adequately accommodating employees’ needs and providing for their wellbeing. Finally, mobility will be required to manage and navigate a fast‑paced, rapidly‑changing, technologically‑enabled programme, as cutting‑edge technology will be capable of leveraging the wealth of data stemming from the mobility programme for the purpose of creating value, providing critical insight into business operations, and streamlining workforce planning.

How can the mobility function ideally brace itself for the transformations to come?

We frequently hear mobility teams assert their entitlement to a seat at the table when it comes to participation in business and strategic discussions. In light of this, what steps must the mobility function undertake in order to effectively pursue a tactical approach and establish itself as a respected strategic partner in the eyes of the business and HR functions? And how can it do so in a way that its voice is heard loudly and clearly during business transformations (mergers, divestitures, expansions, etc.) such that it is likely to become an integral component of the HR agenda?

We have specified seven key enablers of global mobility – talent, organization, programme, process, performance, technology and data – which combine to form the mobility strategy. There are three questions that must be asked when defining a mobility strategy:

  • What is our business strategy?
  • Is mobility part of the HR agenda?
  • What is the role of our mobility function?

The answers to these three questions will then serve as the starting point for defining your function as a whole. Is your programme responsive and flexible enough to meet the needs of business and is it designed to effectively attract and retain talent? Are you able to deploy the right talent to the right locations at the right time in a manner which ensures that employees value the foreign‑country experience gained and can capitalize on this experience in their careers moving forward? What is the nature of your mobility function’s operating model, does it align with that of the overall organization, and are the required capabilities available within the team? Do you ensure operational excellence by way of conducting efficient process management? Do you measure the mobility function’s performance or solely the individual employees’ performance? Finally, do you have the proper technology in place needed to manage your mobile workforce and do you thoroughly analyze your data with the aim of providing for better decision‑making in the future? Beginning this journey of scrutinizing your function will require you to ask these questions and many more in order to effectively ascertain where you stand today and what you seek to achieve in the future.

What is the most effective approach toward driving change in the area of mobility technology?

There are a number of challenges that must be tackled prior to implementing new technology. You should first devise a strategy and maintain a clear vision of how mobility will function harmoniously with technology before setting out to working toward achieving this goal. The second step involves designing a system blueprint by way of creating a new end‑to‑end technology-enabled process that leverages the benefits of automation. The third step involves configuring the platform. If you already utilize a technology system within your existing infrastructure, it is critical that you review, optimize, and upgrade this technology prior to implementing and building a new system. The fourth and final step involves adopting a new way of working by rigorously pursuing change management objectives and connecting the platforms to stakeholders. When kicking off the conversation about technology, a focus should be placed on the following questions:

  • What is our vision for the mobility function in the coming years?
  • Are we capable of automating any of the current process steps?
  • What challenges do we face and what opportunities can we capitalize on?
  • Is the HR function undergoing any broad‑based transformation or IT initiative?

What will mobility need to succeed in the future?

We asked mobility professionals the following question:

  • What are the future skills required in the mobility function?

Responses we received included strategic partnering, empathy and care, understanding technology, and being digitally savvy. It is of critical importance to possess the ability to provide strategic advice at a holistic level while concurrently demonstrating close attention to detail and an ability to maneuver seamlessly between the specifics and the big picture. This sheds some light on the wide variety of skills and abilities that mobility professionals will be tasked with mastering. In particular, mobility professionals must demonstrate a profound ability to adapt and evolve in the face of changing roles and expectations. While transactional tasks may become increasingly affected by automation, offshoring, and outsourcing, the employee skillset requirements will undoubtedly undergo a fundamental change. Now is the time to begin looking forward toward the mobility‑related roles and skills that will be valued in tomorrow’s business world. What does your future mobility strategy aim to achieve and how can you facilitate the strategy’s success from the inside out? Do you have the proper tools in place in order to develop the skillsets and mindsets needed to thrive in the face of the changes to come?

Operational effectiveness

We must address the importance of the service delivery model as pertains to mobility trends, mobility enablers, technology, and learning, as this model serves as a firm pillar carrying the weight of this entire endeavor. Where does the journey start and how can you transform your operating model in manner that is both efficient and effective?

Performing a current‑state analysis is imperative to defining your current mobility strategy, the manner in which you operate, and where the challenges and potential opportunities lie. Ascertaining this information will strengthen your business case and enable you to specify the goals that you aim to achieve through the introduction of targeted changes and enhancements.

There are various methods of efficient operation in the area of mobility including the centralization of operations under one team, reliance on local support, offshoring to service centers, and outsourcing to vendors. The differing structures and needs among the diverse range of organizations in the marketplace would clearly make it unwise to recommend any sort of cookie‑cutter approach to tackling the issue of mobility solutions.

It is important to remain focused on the operating model as well as on the programme guiding your operations, as this framework will lend organizational support by establishing policies, processes, templates, communications, and a number of other benefits.

Irrespective of the changes that you ultimately decide to pursue, you will certainly see that all of these components are heavily interrelated and that you would therefore be ill‑advised to change them in isolation from one another. Finally, remember to communicate and coordinate with your stakeholders from an early stage onward in order to ensure that all impacted parties are properly onboarded and are supportive of any upcoming changes. Good preparation and sound planning are half the battle!

SKILLSET or MINDSET – which is more important?

It’s probably safe to say that the lack of a proper skillset would likely create greater challenges in effectively performing mobility‑related tasks. It can nonetheless be argued that a proper mindset trumps a proper skillset.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Alvin Toffler

Voice of customers