Convergence is a term we hear all the time – so much so, we wonder if it has real meaning anymore. Most recently, in our last issue, we covered convergence from the point of view of different devices coming together: the cell phone, the handheld computer, the camera, and the television, just to name a few.
And more often than not, we hear about convergence in its broadest sense, referring to entire industries coming together — broadcasting, telecom and information technology and electronics.
In this issue, we look at convergence from a more original point of view — not so much in terms of technology, but at some of subtle changes occuring inside the organization, specifically, the long-predicted merging of the office equipment, information technology and telecom functions. It is finally about to happen; and, as a result, start re-training your IT folks now.
Two things are clear. The more devices are networked together, the more they will become the province of one department. And the more complicated and technical these requirements become, the more that department won’t be audio-visual or office administration — it will be IT.
In The Converged Office, Grant Buckler tells us how the process of buying, approving, testing and supporting office equipment is now driven by IT. (See p. 18.)
That may not appeal to a CIO who would think twice before adding to the workload. And there are important questions about how you want your IT department to field all those phone calls if your printer runs out of toner or if your salesperson can’t get that digital projector to work.
Look at this way: it could also raise the CIO’s profile and increase your clout in the organization. And that may be a big part of the reason why so many CIOs have no problem with bringing office equipment into the fold.
More importantly, this will all translate into a more streamlined, efficient way to handle things. There is no good reason for IT, telecom and office equipment to be kept separate anymore, because it all has to work together at the end of the day.
That’s why it’s not such a bad idea that CIOs start to familarize themselves with everything from digital projectors to photocopiers to scanners, not so much from the point of view of understanding how these devices work but what it can mean in terms of productivity and the bottom line.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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