Reach software combines video chat and document collaboration
Reach combines video chat, document collaboration and identity verification in one platform. Image: Reach

An Israeli software company wants to solve the problem of too many collaboration tools and no single one to rule them all. Reach combines collaboration tools, e-signature functionality, video conferencing, ID verification and payments in one platform. The company also takes a modular approach to selling its software that allows customers to hold on to existing tools while adding individual Reach services.

Co-founder and CEO Yair Ravid started the company in early 2020. Banks and insurance companies were early customers as in-person processes went remote during the pandemic. Daimler AG uses the platform to sell cars remotely as well.

The goal is to replace transactions that previously had to be completed in-person with a digital process and to improve remote processes in general. Reach customers use the platform to fill out mortgage paperwork, onboard customers and sell insurance policies and even cars.

“This is a strategic move for Daimler, moving from selling cars in person to selling them remotely,” Ravid said. “They estimate that 50% of cars will be sold remotely in 10 years.”

SEE: Improving employee retention still not priority despite Great Resignation

Mike Gotta, a research VP at Gartner, the market has responded to the idea of “contextualized” collaboration tools.

Gotta said there are many “part-time” vendors in the collaboration space. With these vendors, the main business focus is not collaboration, but they have added collaboration capabilities to their base package to contextualize teamwork specific to the processes or work activities they solve. Gotta listed the Salesforce acquisition of Slack as an example of this trend.

“Salesforce has stated a direction where Slack will eventually become the collaborative experience for many of the work patterns Salesforce drives,” he said. “So while organizations might have a foundational ‘standard’ such as Microsoft or Google, they might very well have strong business cases for use of Slack across certain domains of the business.”

Gotta said the collaboration software market is “a market of markets” with multiple types of products that support teamwork in different ways. Vendors in the collaboration market that understand these trends can carve out their own particular value proposition, he said.

How the remote paperwork process works

A customer service agent sends a link to a video chat to a customer. The individual clicks to join and walks through the paperwork with the agent. Up to 20 people can join the video call. Document updates made by either person show up automatically on both sides of the interaction. There’s also a self-service option that customers can complete independently and a workflow builder for creating templates and digital forms.

Data captured or updated during these sessions goes directly to CRM systems including Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. There is an audit trail of the interaction as well with audit logs and a video of each interaction. Reach has a SOC2 certification and complies with GDPR data privacy requirements.

SEE: IT professionals share issues, concerns about collaborative platforms

Their identity verification engine uses computer vision and machine learning to verify the authenticity of a customer’s identity cards. Customers upload an ID and take a photo or video selfie. Reach’s verification process uses four checks to confirm an individual’s identity:

  1. Face similarity score to compare the selfie to the identity documents
  2. A liveness check to ensure the selfie is not a picture of a picture
  3. Comparison of data extracted from identity documents to public and private databases
  4. Verification of identity documents such as a passport or driver’s license

Solving the tool overload problem

Gartner research published in December 2021 found that digital friction caused by multiple, siloed, digital work experiences and organizational attachments to in-person styles of work have significantly contributed to employee fatigue and burnout.

Organizations rolled out the tech components of a digital workplace over the last two years, but did not improve employee experience at the same time. Gartner analysts recommend that companies develop better “digital dexterity,” which is the ability and ambition of an employee to take full advantage of technology to drive business outcomes.

The Gartner research note also identifies a side effect of this digital transformation: YATTC. With each new collaboration tool a company adopts, there is “yet another thing to check.” The analysts use a example from Microsoft to illustrate this trend:

“Microsoft 365 now contains 13 components that could be considered YATTC, since a new and relevant piece of content or message could be missed if the right spot in that application is not checked.”

Ravid said the company earned an 8x increase in revenue from Q1 2020 to Q4 2021 and this week announced a Series A funding round of $7 million. Grayhawk Capital and the Pritzker Group funded the round with participation from Reach’s seed investor NFX.

SEE: Improving employee retention still not priority despite Great Resignation 

Leib Bolel, a partner at Grayhawk Capital, said in a press release that the firm invested in REACH because the software helps businesses streamline communications, contract negotiations and transactions.

“Too often we see enterprises take a Frankenstein approach to digital customer engagement with disparate solutions for workflow management, esignature, video conferencing and beyond,” Bolel said. “More challenging, these platforms aren’t integrated or real-time.”

Adam Preset, VP analyst for employee experience technologies at Gartner, said most complex organizations have multiple collaboration tools and that chat, meeting, file sharing and workflow integrations are common.

“The collaboration vendors make it both easier and harder because they help you do many things, but also in many different ways,” he said. “Flexibility leads to choice, which leads to complexity.”

Companies often need one set of tools for internal work and another for external work, Preset said, as well as specialized solutions for certain roles.

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“Purpose-built applications are necessary because they’re designed to solve a certain problem from scratch, often from the perspective of a specific role,” he said. “It’s difficult to take a general tool and to solve the same specific problem with the same effectiveness.”

Preset said automation might be one solution to the “too many tools” problem.

“So, having so many applications may not be as great a challenge if they are all designed to bring the right information you need to the forefront,” he said.

Gartner predicts that by 2025, 15% of information and communication will be algorithmically promoted or demoted.

How a portfolio strategy can reduce digital friction

Gotta said that Gartner recommends a portfolio approach to tools instead of a strict standardization policy. To get started, companies should determine the minimal number of tools in three categories: foundational, domain and situational.

“Rationalizing tools based on use cases can actually reduce some of the digital friction experience because tools are aligned to the business use case,” he said. “Ironically, having some flexibility in the tools IT recommends to the business can enable less confusion because tools are contextually aligned to the work at hand.”

SEE: Retaining talent may be about proper employee training, not perks

The next step is to focus on the digital experiences of employees using personas, journey maps and digital experience monitoring tools, according to Gotta. Companies can use this process to identify “new work hubs,” a Gartner term for clusters or work patterns.

“These new work hubs integrate the tools that you’ve approved and support which allows organizations to optimize the experience of employees and reduce digital friction,” he said.

“The concern about too many tools is a pain point that often leads back to the digital experience and digital friction of employees,” he said. “If you can approach the issue by rationalizing the productivity portfolio of apps (foundational/domain/situational), and focus on digital experience and new work hubs, you can define a pragmatic strategy.”

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