In an age of economic uncertainty, businesses are searching for efficiencies wherever they can. Technology may seem to breed these efficiencies, fortunately, businesses are driven by people, so businesses are starting to implement technologies that drive human capital into a new era of efficiency. There has been a trend to use technology to breed a more efficient workforce, harnessing the power of technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. Shifting forecasts, changing schedules, increased customer demands, variable recruitment, and retention strategies demand greater control. According to Riyaat Phillips, Senior Pre-Sales Manager at Altron Systems Integration workforce management says great businesses are powered by great people. “To be a great business, an engaged workforce should be fostered and managed. The right workforce solutions must be purpose-built for industry and employees.”Phillips is concerned about the increasing number of companies in South Africa that are not realising maturity when it comes to workforce management – i.e., they fail to fully understand what it takes to manage a large workforce efficiently and humanely. “Large enterprises, especially those that have been around for many years, have evolved their systems from international trends and lessons learned over decades of growth.”As labour is most often a company’s biggest expense, Phillips says managing it wisely is crucial. This means predicting and forecasting workforce demand in a way that aligns labour with demand while accounting for all variables. This entails managing and monitoring labour schedules, overtime, leave, and absence, as well as automatically predicting accurate labour forecasts and aligning them with corporate revenue requirements.“With the right tech-driven workforce management solution, you can forecast how much labour you need based on the demand using historical data and various algorithms with an accuracy of up 90%. That is the power of tech,” says Phillips. He says a well-planned Workforce Management solution reduces labour costs, eliminates unscheduled hours, and effectively provides only for required overtime, while also employing an automated scheduling engine using out-the-box built-in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities.He says machine learning models can be applied to forecast with a greater depth of data bringing in factors like environmental conditions, store pooling and seasonal demand. Artificial Intelligence, on the other hand, can be used to manage a workforce, learn about patterns and behaviours, and predict what messages to send to certain employees based on their performance without management having to intervene. Of course, workforces are human at heart, so Phillips says consistency and fairness must be embedded into these smart systems. “We can configure our solutions to conform with not only company policy but national labour regulations as well. While this fosters efficient workforce management, it can also ensure that workforces are not abused, and their rights remain respected.”He says workforce management systems should never take over how a company operates, but rather it should be used to enhance how decisions are made as human beings.
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