Technology Record - Issue 28: Spring 2023

171 sharing, onboarding, upskilling, and task and shift management.” In addition, Microsoft is working with multiple partners, such as software and hardware provider Zebra Technologies and UKG, which supplies human resources and workforce management solutions. “We’re delivering apps such as Teams Walkie Talkie on Zebra’s rugged mobile devices to help workers communicate easily while they’re in store, and we’ve integrated Teams with Zebra’s Reflexis Workforce Management solutions to streamline shift scheduling,” says Minbiole. “Similarly, Microsoft has collaborated with UKG to embed its Workforce Management solution into Shifts, enabling users to view, swap and accept shifts, request leave, view and log their hours and complete other scheduling tasks directly from Teams.” A holistic approach These are just a few of the many innovations Microsoft is developing in collaboration with partners. However, Minbiole cautions retailers against investing in such solutions too hastily. “If they want to truly optimise operations and improve employee and customer experiences, retailers must first set out a clear corporate vision with key goals and metrics,” says Minbiole. “They should ask themselves what differentiates their brand from the competition, what types of customer and employee experiences they want to offer, how they see physical and online stores evolving, and many other similar questions. Next, they should identify the barriers and operational challenges they need to overcome to achieve these goals, and then explore how they can use digital technologies to achieve these aims. “The important thing is to ensure that every system, device, platform, tool and person is seamlessly connected across the organisation.” Happy employees lead to happy customers Retailers have spent decades focusing on optimising the customer experience but are now realising that investing to improve the frontline workers’ experience means they are ultimately investing in enhancing the customer experience too. “The frontline worker role extends across the entire retail value chain and every individual plays a pivotal role in determining the customer experience and driving a retailer’s bottom line,” says Minbiole. “We know that a welcoming environment, the right products and friendly, knowledgeable staff are key ingredients to a successful retail experience. Together with our partners, Microsoft is empowering store associates with tools, data and insights so they can work more efficiently, deliver better customer experiences, drive sales and much more, all while feeling more motivated, fulfilled and valued.” “ Together with our partners, Microsoft is empowering store associates with tools, data and insights” Photo: Microsoft Both Shifts in Teams and UKG Dimensions in Teams make it easier for team leaders to manage rotas and for individual employees to manage their working hours and paid time off RETAIL & CG