With workplaces becoming more mobile and, well, more millennial, there’s an even greater need for unified communications and collaboration (UCC) technologies. And bonus – they can also drive important productivity gains.
That was the focus of a recent ITWC webinar sponsored by Rogers — Collaboration and Innovation: Driving Business Success. Webinar host Jim Love, ITWC’s CIO, said there is no doubt that collaboration and innovation bring productivity gains.
“There’s never been a time in history where we’ve needed productivity gains and innovation more than today,” said Love.
That was echoed by Charlie Wade, senior vice-president of enterprise products and solutions with Rogers, who said the changing ways of doing business are forcing the need for the adoption of new collaboration technologies.
“We’re seeing a shift in the evolution of the workplace,” said Wade. “The old tools and way of doing it just aren’t cutting it anymore.”
Two factors are driving this evolution, according to Wade. The first is that the makeup of the workforce is changing; a new generation of workers is entering, and they have different expectations.
“We’re seeing more millennials that are expecting a different environment in terms of the way they work. Today we use email, but for millennials email doesn’t cut it,” said Wade. “They’re looking for real-time collaboration tools that allow them to get work done. They want to storm problems, and ask 20 people at a time a question.”
The second trend shaping the modern workplace is mobility. Some 75 per cent of employed Canadians will be mobile workers by 2018, and by 2017 some 80 per cent of consumer engagement will occur on mobile devices. With 60 per cent of Canadian making job choices based on the ability to work flexibly and employees that are able to work flexibly proving to be 20 per cent more engaged, it’s a trend businesses can’t ignore.
“The place of work is no longer in the office, it’s on the street,” said Wade. “The office should be a place of collaboration, not a place of I have to go hide in my cubicle and do my work there.”
What is emerging is a modern worker who works anything instead of from 9-5, from anywhere instead of always in a corporate office, from any device instead of a standard corporate-issued device and relying on collaboration technologies instead of email, measured by their output instead of their mere presence in the office.
“IT organizations must be a strategic driving force in enabling this change,” said Wade. “There’s increasing demand from both the top down, and from the bottom up.”
The challenge is, much of the energy and budget for the IT department is focused on merely keeping the lights on, and this tactical focus makes it difficult for it to drive the strategic change needed.
Love said CIOs today are buried in tactical work, and when business needs aren’t met, shadow IT can grow, costing the organization in the long run.
“You’ve got to get out from under the infrastructure. If you’re going to be Mr. Infrastructure, you’re not going to make it in this new world,” said Love. “And you need to speak a new language with business. It’s not the language of IT, it’s the language of business.”
Rogers’ vision is to implement a flexible work vision of collaboration (applications), inside the office (Wi-Fi), communications foundation (access) and outside the office (mobility).
“This isn’t an IT play of just throwing a lot of technology at the problem. That’s part of it, but really it’s about the environment in which you set up your business,” said Wade. “Are you structuring your business on classic meeting rooms and office space/cubicles, or are you thinking about creative collaboration spaces where you can throw people together to really innovate?”