A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Marc Benioff lead off the “Brand Matters” keynote speech at the 2013 CES show in Las Vegas.

It was by far the best part of the conference for me, mostly because Marc spent a considerable amount of time discussing the concept of connected employees.

Marc and Salesforce are leaders in developing SaaS products for enterprise clients. Although he didn’t specifically mention retail execution, his discussion on connected employees can teach us a thing or two about managing a distributed workforce.  Here are six things to consider when looking at software to manage your retail execution:

1) “Our industry has transformed… It is not transforming. It HAS transformed!”

The retail industry as a whole is still stuck on the idea that the future of software for the distributed workforce is near, when in actuality it is NOW. The future of the mobile employee IS the present, no matter what you read about BYOD or MDM debates.

2) “The question is not ‘is your employee connected?’… the answer is YES… but are you, the company, are you connected?”

It seems like a simple concept, but retail companies focus on the consumer and far too often ignore their employee. If your consumer is connected, your employee is connected as well.  You better make sure your company is connected to communicate in a way that engages your employees.

3) “Your employees, when they come to the office, they don’t want your hacked Windows PC… they want their ____ (fill in smartphone name). You have to connect to your employee!”

Employees are bringing their smartphone to work, whether you allow them to use it for work or not.  On top of that, they would prefer to use their personal device and will be more productive if you allow them to do so.

4) “How are you connected with your employees? Email? Is that what you’re doing? Intranet? Is that it? NO. Those days are over.”

Just because you have a cool, custom built intranet and email access on mobile devices does not mean you are connected to your field-based team.

5) “I run my company on my iPhone, I don’t even use my laptop.”

Hearing an industry executive like Marc say that he doesn’t even use his computer is shocking, but he speaks the truth! Gone are the days of sitting at your desk and working 9:00 am – 5:00 pm without interruption.

6) “Technology is a continuum… it is inherently disruptive.  We love it for its constant and never-ending change.”

And for the same reason, we must embrace new technologies to keep up with the retail evolution.  If you’re still managing your product and retail execution with spreadsheets and email, you are already behind.

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