WorkForce Software CTO: ‘Deskless workers are often overlooked’

24 Feb 2023

Nicole Neumarker. Image: WorkForce Software

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the world of work has faced a huge amount of upheaval. WorkForce Software’s Nicole Neumarker discusses the tech trends that continue to affect the HR industry.

Nicole Neumarker has more than 20 years’ enterprise software experience setting strategic direction, leading people, and ensuring results across business, operations, technology, and finance functions.

In her role as chief technology officer at WorkForce Software, she oversees software development and plays a key role in defining the company’s innovation goals, product strategy and delivery roadmap.

Prior to WorkForce Software, Neumarker was the executive vice-president of development and innovation at healthcare analytics company Cotiviti. She holds a degree from Brigham Young University.

‘We are still navigating unpredictable changes in the workplace’

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the current IT landscape?

The biggest challenge for IT and tech product professionals is ensuring a product fits the needs of all potential customers. In my case, as an HR tech leader, innovating and expanding our product suite to help customers support all their workers is critical – including those in deskless roles.

Deskless workers are often overlooked when it comes to a company’s technology decisions, which further creates scheduling, compliance and communication issues, to name a few.

For example, when communication solutions aren’t implemented by companies, employees often turn to their own strategies to fill the void using unofficial, unsecure and vulnerable third-party applications.

These seemingly quick fixes have significant downsides when you consider they can be highly visible to the company’s customers and future employees and that they don’t meet the compliance requirements that govern corporate communications.

At WorkForce Software, our mission and my consistent focus is to develop and adapt our solutions in a way that helps businesses close the gap between deskless and office employees, and that helps them provide the often-overlooked deskless workers with technology that improves communication, productivity, and their employee experience overall.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

The digital transformation was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic and despite many challenges, it has been an exciting time for technology leaders and professionals.

Technology can be a critical enabler for every company’s success. However, having the ability to adapt to change in the HR technology industry is becoming a competitive differentiator as the industry rapidly evolves along with employees’ changing needs.

We are still navigating unpredictable changes in the workplace and as the leading provider of modern workforce management systems, WorkForce Software is innovating and addressing significant shifts in our technology in order to quickly to meet the demands of new and existing customers.

How can sustainability be addressed from an IT perspective?

Two areas where IT has the biggest impact on sustainability is in energy consumption and IT hardware. Data centers are some of the largest consumers of energy generally, regardless of whether they’re a colocation or public cloud.

Prioritising data centres and cloud vendors that are able to source green energy is one way to drive IT spending towards more sustainable vendors.

Similarly in hardware use and e-waste, how hardware is bought, used and recycled through IT vendors is another area worth reviewing and prioritizing spending according to vendors who responsibly source and recycle.

IT has an immense amount of budgetary power in how they deploy resources, bringing a sustainability angle to purchasing decisions drives dollars towards vendors on the side of sustainability solutions.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world?

One trend in the HR tech space that I am particularly excited by is the increased awareness of the need for up-to-date technology in the workplace, especially for deskless workers.

More generally, organisations are operating in a period of accelerated change and constant disruption. We are currently navigating a time when the global economy remains uncertain, customer needs are quickly evolving and technology and market disruptions are requiring companies to sense and adapt more quickly than ever before.

Up-to-date tech in the workplace is essential to a company’s effective response and their ability to positively impact their employees’ experience as they prepare and support them in times of change. Supporting change relies heavily on communications and the ability to adapt systems that enable operations.

The pressure on businesses is tremendous, as there is no precedent for what companies are being asked to do now to support new ways of working that we wouldn’t have considered pre-pandemic.

Smart employers are beginning to understand the importance of listening to what all the teams within their workforce really want – from desked to deskless employees – and the importance of investing in technology to automate and improve communication and scheduling flexibility.

How can we address the security challenges currently facing your industry?

There is an immense amount of new technology emerging to solve point specific problems related to security, and it’s easy to overspend in people and technology given the tight security skillset market.

I organise my security approach in three ways: designating a security leader or CISO who is clear on the need to have both a programmatic, technical execution and a specialised skills approach to how security is handled throughout the organisation.

It’s easy to conflate certifications with effective security, but a deep security stance requires clarity on scope, accepted risks and the tools required to manage security end to end.

Secondly, once scope is understood, I need to decide what staff are needed to manage execution of a security posture and if they are good partners to IT operations for key aspects of execution.

Lastly, deciphering which key security services and software vendors are required to fully support the CISO’s programme and execution throughout the organisation, especially for managing events such as zero-day vulnerabilities or in the worst case, data breaches, is important.

All three layers need to be contemplated holistically to have the best chance at managing to the lowest risk.

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