In much of the discussion around the digital workplace and digital transformation, there is a tendency to talk about tools in isolation. The result is that there has also been a tendency to talk about customer relationship management tools and customer experience tools in isolation. In the past we have also discussions about the merit of email over collaboration tools and applications and whether file transfer applications and email applications can work together.

Needless to say, in a mutli-tool digital workplace, these discussions are misplaced. Digital workplaces need digital tools working together in tandem. Recent research from Madison, Wis.-based Widen shows that marketing teams at least are aware of this and developing integrated digital app strategies. The research, titled The 2018 Connectivity Report: Decoding Connectivity For Marketing And Creative Professionals (sign-in required) was based on data from a survey of 583 marketers worldwide who worked with all sizes of firms from micro enterprises to those of over 10,000 people, mainly in the US and Europe.

While the main trend that emerged from the study is that respondents were largely focused on personalizing customer experiences, it also showed that 76 percent of respondents have already integrated at least two of their digital workplace tools while 85 percent are already using at least one artificial intelligence tool in the home, just a short step away from bringing them into the workplace (86 percent says there are no AI-driven tools in the workplace).

The report also found that the top digital tools that marketers can’t do without are sharing, customer relationship management, and email marketing services. This breaks down as follows:

  • 42.4 percent of respondents say file-sharing is the top digital work tool that they would be unable to do without
  • 41.6 percent cite customer relationship management platforms
  • 35 percent say email marketing systems.

Nearly three-quarters (74.3 percent) of respondents say they have integrated at least two of the digital tools to work together while, unsurprisingly, 64.9 percent of say the main benefit of integrating these tools is access to bigger data sets. “The assumption is that connectivity is inherently good and valuable. However, few marketers have researched what 'connectivity' means and how we should incorporate it into what we do to achieve the greatest level of success,” the report reads.

“We learned how prevalent the human element is in building connected networks, processes, and cultures in today’s digital age. In fact, it seems true connectivity can’t exist on digital experiences alone. The personal touch that allows us to connect emotionally and feel engaged is required.”

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Tools Need To Be Integrated

Dan Moyer is the marketing director here at Chatsworth, Calif.-based CalNet, a NexusTek company. He agrees that file sharing apps are important, but that file sharing on its own is not enough. To fill out the gaps he says that he wouldn’t be able to do the job without Office 365. He said that a suite like this makes it easier to schedule meetings with sales team via Skype for Business, to cloud-based collaboration tools like Teams and content management with SharePoint — where we make sales assets and marketing materials available to our entire organization — Office 365 has streamlined our interdepartmental workflows.

Cory Sarrett, SEO and SEM specialist with New Orleans digital marketing agency Online Optimism said that the Widen research is an accurate reflection of what is happening most enterprises now. He said many organizations are using all three – file sharing, CRM, email — to keep internal documents, and information available for sharing through email lists. He explained that in cases where a lot of content is created, companies rely on file sharing to allow quick content transfers and easy access to all documentation while the CRM  would enable its business development team. “These software [packages] keeps them informed on whether they’re on track or not, which is essential for seeking areas of improvement and to note what’s going well. Sales and general customer relationships are stronger because of this software,” he said.

Email marketing services are great at targeting audiences that have provided them with their specific addresses, he said. "We know from either having done business in the past or having them express interest in our company that they might benefit from the information we have to share, and we’ve found a lot of success from our email marketing efforts.”

Learning Opportunities

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Marketers Are Using Analytics

Several people we asked about the research said they were surprised that analytics hadn’t made it into the top 3 digital apps. Giorgio Cassella of UK-based Akateko Digital said that while they have a small team, they are geographical dispersed (South America, Ukraine and Kazakhstan) and the ability to collaborate efficiently has been crucial to the survival of the company. It is also worth noting here that they not one but four different collaboration tools to communicate, Notably Slack, Google Drive, Trello and Jira. “I found it amazing that analytical tools to make more data driven decisions weren’t ranked amongst these top 3! Being able to effectively analyze our marketing efforts and make future decisions based on what we’ve learned is another factor I’d contribute to being critical for our success,” he said.

This goes beyond simply tracking campaign sources or mediums through Google Analytics, extending into fully tracked, individual user journeys using tools like Mixpanel that allows Akateko to monitor conversion funnels, how different cohorts interact with the product further into their lifecycle and understanding how user lifetime-value and retention rates changes depending how they find out about them.

More Digital Workplace Tools

There are other tools too that marketers are also using to enabling communication and collaboration other than the ones that were identified as the top tier in the Widen report. Kim Smith — content consultant with Washington D.C.—based GoodFirms, a B2B research and review platform, said that the following tools are helping their digital workplace communication and collaboration efforts:

  • Google Drive - Used for collaboration and communication. The best part of Google Drive is it allows commenting in a file. The changes made in the file by one user get synced with all the devices in real-time.
  • Intercom - Helps users provide customer support. Enterprises can respond to customer queries in real-time with Intercom. This helps build strong relationship with customers and boosts brand reputation.
  • YMLP -  This tool helps sends newsletter to all the registered companies with a single quick. It also allows us to schedule emails. Apart from that, we can monitor metrics like email CTRs and bounce rates. It is undoubtedly one of the best tools that enables us to do all the email marketing end-to-end on all email campaigns.

Many companies are slow to adopt these tools. But using the right tools for your organization will disrupt your business in the best way possible. 

Gene Caballero founder of Nashville-based GreenPal, adds one more tool to the list of desirable tools for digital workplace workers. That tool is Intercom is a customer engagement tool that allows you to interact with customers at any point in time while they are on your site. “With this tool, we have inserted ourselves into our on-boarding funnel and can reach and talk to customers and get real time feedback during critical moments of the sign-up process. With this data and real time feedback, we can make design or copy changes to improve our click through rate and overall customer experience,” he said. With these practices, caballero claims to have seen a 40% uplift in conversion after implementation.

Needless to say there are many more tools available for digital workplace employees, but the bottom line is that everyone is looking for file sharing, CRM and email applications. After that, what tools an enterprise deploys depends entirely on the kind of business they are doing.