Getting the Right UC Tools

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According to Andy Pearce, VP Northern Europe, for unified communications and collaboration service provider Arkadin, the future of work will be about getting unified communications right and here he suggests how this can be achieved.

The ‘future of work’ has become one of those trending catchphrases that tends to include everything from the introduction of robotics and IoT into workplace practices to elevate capabilities and efficiency.

In this instance, we’re going to talk about how important work-based collaboration tools are to an efficient and agile digital workplace. 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 should expect to see reduced costs, new revenue streams and the establishment of a better customer experience. The unexpected benefits include innovation, business continuity and an empowered workforce.

It’s well documented that the influence of millennials on working life (those reaching young adulthood around the early 00’s) is increasing massively. Deloitte predicts that by 2025 this hyper-connected, tech savvy generation will make up 75% of the workforce. So it’s vital for enterprises to provision for this segment – who thrive on collaboration and instant communication – into existing workplaces.

So what does the Future of Work look like?

Andy Pearce believes the secret to futureproofing the workplace is about giving employees the freedom to communicate the same way they would away from work.
“It’s not about paying lip-service to Millennial staffers, it’s about understanding the individuality of how each employee expects they’ll do their job – and how IT can enable that.

To meet these demands, employers need Unified Communications (UC) tools that enable new and traditional working styles, whilst not compromising security, which sounds complex, but needn’t be in reality.

UC helps businesses put their users first, with a tool that’s 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 that delights employees, but also gives the CIO control and visibility.”

What are the drivers for the changing face of communications?

“The work landscape is going to continue to change, and it’s clear from the extensive range of work-based collaboration tools that UC plays a fundamental role, and will be central to the running of a successful business.

Numerous studies show reasons behind recent collaboration tool shifts, and it’s for both technological and cultural reasons. For newer generations, it’s a matter of the go-to technologies used in their daily lives and, like generations before them, it’s difficult to break habits – using WhatsApp for real-time conversations and Skype for email-style collaboration. In fact, even British government ministers reportedly used WhatsApp to communicate over the EU Referendum.

The emerging fleet of Millennial workers would much rather converse across a social network lookalike such as an instant messaging app or even a LinkedIn group. Furthermore, these workers are increasingly prepared to circumnavigate corporate IT to achieve this experience.

Another reason for this change is the wide adoption of flexi-working in the last few years. With over a third of the UK workforce keen to work remotely, those employees seeking new ways of working will need supporting technology more than ever before to stay in touch with colleagues.”

What is your advice for firms seeking effective UC modernisation?

“Fostering a culture of collaboration and building a strong, productive workforce doesn’t happen by chance. I see four key considerations to help streamline work-based collaboration projects.”

Homework – understanding your company’s needs, your resources and your employees is paramount.

Consider conflicting policy – review your BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy and stay within its guidelines, bullet-out a policy that’s applicable for employee-owned devices. Additionally, consider setting up a dedicated BYOD adoption team within your own company.

Security is everything – however unlikely it is that your UC solution would be hacked, it’s always better to be prepared. For example, encrypted password protection should be offered by your UC provider to limit access.

Train employees – your employees’ confidence in their own skills and knowledge is the biggest threat to the adoption of any new technology in the workplace. Provide the tools to get the most from your UC solution and they’re far more likely to embrace it.

Andy Pearce concludes, “To meet evolving customer demands and appease expectations of younger employees it’s key for businesses to provide collaboration and communication tools with cross-departmental and generational appeal and to keep the above considerations in mind. Understanding and delivering tools that meet these expectations will help businesses reduce costs, drive innovation and more importantly, ensure a happy, productive workforce.”