Network Communications News (NCN) October 2016 - Page 10

COLUMN talking point Taking care of business Andy Pearce of Arkadin discusses why Unified Communication lies at the heart of the future of work. T he journey to a digital workplace is a primary opportunity for organisations as part of their transformation to becoming a digital business. Business models are being forced to adapt, and the pace of change is high, so organisations need a framework to successfully take this change from a vision to transformation. Organisations that get this right will expect to see reduced costs, new revenue streams and the provision of a better customer experience, but can also capitalise on unexpected benefits such as innovation, business continuity and an empowered workforce. The influence of millennials (individuals reaching young adulthood around the year 2000) is increasing massively. It has been predicted that by 2025 this hyper-connected, tech savvy generation will make up 75 per cent of the workforce, according to Deloitte. It’s therefore vital for enterprises to accommodate this segment – who thrive on collaboration and instant communication – into existing workplaces. The future of work The key to future proofing the workplace is giving employees the freedom to communicate in the same way they would away from work. It’s not about paying lip-service to millennial workers, it’s about understanding that every individual employee has a different, personalised expectation of how they’ll do their job – and how IT can enable that. To meet these demands, employers need to deploy Unified Communications (UC) tools that enable both new and traditional working styles, whilst not compromising security – which sounds complex, but in practice it needn’t be. UC helps businesses put their users first, with a tool that is for the people, by the people. It integrates Instant Messenger, telephony plus online audio, web and video collaboration and so on, into a single intuitive interface which users will love, but at the same time gives the CIO control and visibility. The changing nature of communication The work landscape will continue to change, and it’s clear from the extensive range of work based collaboration tools that UC is going nowhere – furthermore, it will in fact be central to the running of a business. Numerous studies show the reasons behind recent communication tool shifts, and it’s largely for both technological and cultural reasons. For newer generations, it’s a matter of the go-to technologies they use in their daily lives and, much like generations before them, it’s difficult to break habits – using WhatsApp for real time communication and Skype for email style conversations and collaboration. In fact, even British government ministers were reportedly using WhatsApp to communicate over the EU Referendum. This emerging generation of workers would much rather communicate across a social network lookalike, instant messaging App or even a LinkedIn group, hence the rise of Shadow IT as consumer tech infiltrates organisations – sometimes because it’s much easier to use than ‘officially’ sanctioned Apps. Another reason for this change is the wide adoption of flexible working in the last few years. Already more than a third of the UK workforce alone want to work remotely, which means people need supporting technology more than they did previously to stay in touch with their colleagues. To complicate things further, particularly for the under pressure IT department, employees like their own consumer tech better than typically antiquated work collaboration systems. Four steps to a successful UC overhaul Fostering a culture of collaboration and building a strong, productive workforce doesn’t happen by chance. Here are four key considerations to help streamline work based collaboration projects. Homework – A no-brainer, but understanding your company needs, your resources and your employees is paramount. Consider conflicting policy – Review your BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy and staying within its procedural guidelines, bullet out a policy one that’s applicable for employees’ own devices. Additionally, consider setting up a dedicated BYOD adoption team within your own company. Make sure your business is secure – however unlikely it is that your UC solution would be hacked, it’s always better to be prepared, for example your UC provider should offer encrypted password protection to limit access. Train your employees – the biggest threat to the adoption of any new technology in the workplace is your employees’ confidence in their own skills and knowledge. Provide the tools to get the most from your UC solution and they’re far more likely to embrace it. To meet evolving customer demands and to appease the expectations of their younger employees it’s key for businesses to provide communications tools that appeal to everyone and to keep the above considerations in mind. Truly understanding and delivering tools that meet these expectations will help businesses reduce costs, drive innovative and, importantly, ensure a happy, productive workforce. 10 10 Talking Point.indd 10 03/10/2016 12:19