Last week, we welcomed our customers, prospects and partners to our new London office for our Quarterly Global Mobility event.

Joining me on the panel were industry experts from, PwC and Re:Locate magazine, for a discussion on the future of global mobility. We discussed two main topics: the growth of global mobility and the technology needed to support it.


(From left to right: Fiona Murchie, Re:Locate Magazine Managing Editor; Dom Hammond, PwC Technology Co-leader for Global Mobility Practice; Brynne Herbert, MOVE Guides CEO and Founder; Matt Maltby, King Global Mobility Manager; and Sapna Patel, PwC Solicitor and Senior Manager)

In February, fellow panellist Dominic Hammond from PwC wrote an article called “Mobility is Dead: Long Live Mobility.  Dom suggested that, in upcoming years, global mobility will grow from a specific area of HR into the core of HR departments.  This is based on two ideas – firstly, that being a mobile employee (defined as those travelling and moving regularly) will be the norm for employees in the 21st century – and secondly, that the capabilities to manage these mobile employees will be at the heart of an HR department’s operations, rather than supported by a specialist global mobility department.

Dom’s idea is fascinating, and, as we discussed this week, very much in line with our view at MOVE Guides that global mobility will be one of the most important new categories of HR in the 21st century.  The organisational capability to attract and deploy talent – whether for relocations, assignments, projects, internships or frequent business travel – is a competitive advantage.  It helps develop leaders (1/3rd of S&P 500 CFOs have international experience); it helps retain and engage millennial staff (89% of millennials expect to live and work abroad); and it helps fill gaps in talent pools (63% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills in their local markets).  Combined, these factors foster strong global brands, align global teams and perhaps most importantly for businesses, grow global revenue.  Global mobility is not only growing in importance in HR, it is also core to business success today.

Our panel then pondered why technology solutions for global mobility remain so absent. Incumbent outsourcers (relocation management companies) have done little to introduce enterprise technology applications in the market and are hesitant to cannibalise their own business models of opacity and complexity. Traditional HCM vendors are also noticeably absent in this sphere of HR tech because they lack expertise in payments and tax, supply chain management and employee move support.

Recent research by MOVE Guides and the RES Forum surveying more 80 multinational companies showed that just 18% of global mobility programs are satisfied with their current state.  Our research also showed that global mobility is considered the most complex of HR disciplines, with, as CIPD noted last year, the fewest qualified professionals of any HR discipline.  A large and important market (we estimate companies spend $150bn annually moving talent), complacent outsourcers, high dissatisfaction and complex manual processes all points to a perfect storm for enterprise technology disruption.  So, as the audience asked last week, why hasn’t it happened until MOVE Guides?

The answer is that it is precisely because of this complexity.  Delivering a successful global mobility program requires coordinating HR processes, helping employees organise their personal move, sourcing and managing a supply chain of global partners (shipping, immigration etc.) and facilitating payments to these vendors.  Building a successful enterprise application requires mapping this complexity into a data model, bringing together these components, and building simple and elegant experiences for the different users – HR, global mobility, employees, families, finance and suppliers (MG Mobility Partners).

Add to this the complexity of building scalable configuration and permissions for different global mobility programs and policies, building integrations with a supply chain that has many categories and virtually no APIs or integration experience, and blending a beautiful technology solution with offline support for the counselling and escalations that invariably happen in an international move. Then you start to see why a $150bn industry with 18% satisfaction still exists.

I think of this as bringing together a lot of Lego blocks to build a single beautiful structure.  These Lego blocks represent the different components of a global mobility program.  There are independent systems to do HR processes like estimate the cost of a move; there are many suppliers who perform services for employees and hold data about it; there are many different places where an employee consumes information while planning a move; and on top of this, there are different payment gateways, payroll systems, cost of living information and much more. Today, these Lego blocks are independent and strewn about (like your five-year old had a temper tantrum, or in Silicon Valley dialogue, like a massive spaghetti diagram).

To make an elegant global mobility system for companies, employees and service providers, we must put all of these global mobility Legos together – one by one — into a single technology solution.  The experience for users may be delightful and easy to use, but the Lego blocks connected make it very complex.

It’s clear from our event last week that there is huge excitement from customers, prospects and partners for our MOVE Guides Talent Mobility Cloud.  This platform – with experiences for companies, employees and partners, and personalised support for employees from our customer care team – provides a replacement for incumbent outsources for the first time and drives much better satisfaction for companies, employees and partners.  It’s a beautiful and elegant Lego structure that transforms global mobility. And it’s why MOVE Guides is growing nearly 300% year on year.

We closed our event with discussions of Brexit and what’s upcoming in coming months.  We do hope you can join us for subsequent events in London and / or San Francisco to share your views and learn how we are building the next generation of Lego blocks for global mobility.

Originally posted on Brynne’s blog on Medium.