The Digital Workplace and Cloud Marketing Stack at the time of Home Office
In just two months, a global health pandemic made remote work “the new normal.” But while some companies were better prepared to manage their work and responsibilities remotely, others were forced to fast track their digital transformation and set up their virtual work environment – their “digital workplace.” What are some of the cloud technologies out there to help keep remote marketing teams connected and productive?
While remote work, or “working from home” has become more and more common over the years, its sudden transition from an optional ’nice to have’ to an enforced mode of working in the face of the new coronavirus, has confronted companies with a number of challenges. They had to quickly adopt a new mindset, reassess current marketing efforts and priorities, and find ways to set up a virtual work environment that would allow them to keep up operations and productivity.
In response to the health crisis, many companies made the decision to cancel or move all physical events online. Tech giant Microsoft, for example, announced that it would transition all of its internal and external events to a digital-first experience until July 2021. Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Google have also cancelled major events and conferences because of growing health and safety concerns, opting instead for digital events and materials like videos, live-streamed content and interactive sessions.
It became quickly clear that the “move to digital” was an imperative one. And while some companies – such as those already pursuing their digital transformation or practicing remote work – were better equipped to face this time of uncertainty, others were forced to fast track, searching high and low for the appropriate digital tools that would allow them to communicate and collaborate company-wide.
It’s therefore not surprising that the recent pandemic saw an explosion in online subscriptions – and we’re not just referring to Netflix and Disney +. Web conferencing platforms like Zoom witnessed a huge increase in online meetings, while chat application Slack saw a surge in subscriptions. Meanwhile, Microsoft saw daily active users on Microsoft Teams soar from 12 million to 75 million in just few weeks. What do these providers all have in common? They all offer cloud-based solutions that are able to scale and be accessed from anywhere – such as from your home – at anytime. This has become particularly important in the retail sector, as companies’ e-commerce activities have allowed business to thrive: in France, some brands that usually make 20 to 25% of their turnover online have managed to achieve almost 50% of their usual global turnover during the confinement, despite their stores being closed.
These cloud technologies are not only critical for companies to conduct business in the time of home-based work, but also are absolute necessities in a company’s marketing stack for maintaining marketing and sales operations. In other words, they’ve assumed their roles within the new “digital workplace” – a work environment which unifies a company’s digital tools – from communication and collaboration software to project management and file sharing. A successful digital workplace environment is about having the right technologies and business processes so that employees can access and share important information, as well as jointly collaborate on projects – remotely and securely.
So what are the technologies out there to help your remote teams stay connected and fully operational?
Here is a list of different tools which – if not already part of your current cloud marketing technology stack – will help accelerate your digital transformation journey.
Cloud Storage / File Sharing
Now that you’re working from home, you need to access and share important documents and media files remotely, rather than locally. Cloud storage or file sharing services like Dropbox or Google Drive allow you to store and download important digital content, like documents, PDFs, photos etc, in the cloud. They remove some of the inefficiencies and redundancies associated with (re)sending files via email by allowing users to view and retrieve files from one central web-based location.
Digital Asset Management
Cloud storage and file sharing services can be helpful for small teams and on a short-term basis, but they only provide “basic” services for storing and sharing files. They don’t serve as a single source of truth (SSOT) for all types of assets, including video, 360 images or brand assets, and offer limited functionality for filtering, sharing and editing content. Digital asset management (DAM) systems on the other hand come with a wide set of capabilities. They allow you to organize thousands of assets, intuitively find, convert and resize files, and securely share them with the right people. Unlike cloud storage systems, DAM platforms enable users to execute content review during the creation process, easily distribute marketing content to your communication channels like social media platforms or e-commerce websites, and give you complete and granular oversight and management of your assets and users.
Video / Web Conferencing
Now that calls and meetings have become increasingly remote, video and web conferencing tools have become extremely helpful and popular – so much so that they even started rolling out free versions or trials. These platforms allow you to video chat, communicate and screen-share in real-time with your co-workers, prospects and clients. They’ve even facilitated school teachers, fitness instructors and some health professionals in providing virtual lessons and appointments. These cloud-based video conferencing tools include Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangouts, Skype and Microsoft Teams. Which tool is best suited to your business will depend on which softwares your company is already using – for example, Microsoft 365 vs Google Suite – as well as your specific needs i.e. the number of participants in the call, collaboration features, video recording capabilities etc…
When it comes to organizing your upcoming projects, you need to be able to align team members with goals and deadlines, assign tasks to certain individuals, and continuously monitor the progress of those projects. Project management tools help keep remote team on track by allowing them to easily communicate tasks and responsibilities, and track completion statuses so that you don’t have to constantly check-in or remind people what stage the project is in. There are a number of project management platforms, each with a slightly different set of features and pricing – from customizable workflows and file sharing to time-tracking and reporting. You may already be familiar with some project management software like Trello, Asana and Wrike, all of which use kanban-style dashboards, allowing you to visually organize your projects. When choosing the right cloud-based project management tool for your business, you’ll want to consider the size of your projects, the number of stakeholders involved, possible third-party integrations and of course, which features are must-haves.
To be able to create your new documents and designs, gather feedback from team members and improve them, you’ll also need some type of collaboration software. Cloud-based document editing softwares like Microsoft Office 365 and Google’s G Suite help speed up workflows and productivity by allowing you to easily collaborate on documents, presentations and spreadsheets. Multiple users can simultaneously work on a file and can easily make and review comments or suggestions. If your organization is a globally distributed one with much more advanced needs, such as the localization of printed content, you may want to look into distributed marketing solutions. These come with cloud-based templates, approval workflows and permission management so that teams can collaborate more quickly and speed up the time to market of brand compliant marketing material.
There are a number of cloud technologies that can help steer your marketing and boost productivity in your work-from-home environment. When selecting the appropriate tools for your digital workplace, it’s important to consider the right combination for your organization and ask yourself how these solutions can integrate and work in tandem. The current health crisis is undoubtedly accelerating the digital transformation of marketing and work habits. Companies will emerge profoundly changed. As we settle into a new normal, you can help shape the future of the digital workplace of your marketing teams to the next level.