Heralding the Era of the Digital Employee and Collaboration

Kevin Taylor, President, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA), BT

Kevin Taylor, President, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA), BT

Markets, economies, and people are more closely linked than ever before. So, the need for effective collaboration is growing.

Out-of-date communications infrastructure and limited investment in new technology are holding back the introduction of new collaboration technologies that employees want to use, resulting in employees increasingly bringing their own devices to work. And this brings certain risks for large organizations around the world–a digital dislocation. Organizations need to improve communication and collaboration to drive growth and keep ahead of competitor trends in a rapidly changing world. They have to make it easier for all employees to collaborate – whether they’re in the office, working from home, at clients’ sites or on the move.

Our global survey reveals just how big a problem ‘digital dislocation’ is in the workplace. The research reveals that:

• Organizations that have rolled out a cloud technology beyond trial have benefitted, with average total operating costs falling by 25 per cent.

• They have seen a 30 per cent increase in employee satisfaction directly following implementation of cloud based collaboration technology.

• Crucially, far fewer IT decision makers view security as a barrier to using cloud based collaboration, down to 52 per cent, from 68 per cent three years ago.

No business can achieve its digital transformation ambitions without enabling its employees to work more collaboratively. The future of the workplace lies in employees working flexibly and collaborating with their co-workers anytime and anywhere. Technology has unhinged the employees from their desks and offices, and this trend is only going to continue as technology advances even further.

Gartner predicts that by 2019, integrated virtual employee assistants will increase productivity by 10 per cent. This is just one example of ‘digital dexterity’. It also reflects the need for organizations to strike a balance between

tech-literate people to people-literate tech, between the race for talent and the delivery of a digitally enabled employee experience. This will get more complex as we see the increased use of virtual and augmented reality in everyday life. If we’ve learnt anything from previous technologies, it’s that people, be they employees or consumers, want to be able to use the same channels across their home and work lives.

At BT, we believe the best outcomes come from putting people first and technology second. As employees are the main engine of any business, technology must play a role that better improves their workplace experience, rather than hinder it. The right approach also delivers on the three objectives of delivering cost reduction, better productivity and improved employee motivation without any contradiction. However, changing communication, and collaboration technology is a major transformation for any company, and delivering a great user experience is core to making the transformation happen, with interoperability between technology vendors and systems key to ensuring the right experience.

The core technologies that underpin a great digital employee and collaborative experience—the cloud, mobility, and networking and security services are well established and available in even remote locations. But the obstacles CEOs are facing, such as legacy technology and a fixed infrastructure, make it hard to introduce the on-demand, unified services that meet the expectations of today’s mobile employees. CEOs also identify another barrier: a lack of understanding and insight into what employees really need—which is, they want to work on the move and use lots of collaboration tools. Our research found nearly two in three workers are frustrated with the time they waste contacting colleagues. And nearly 75 percent of employees long for easier ways to share information.

Collaboration Technology can Help Both

If people want to work on the move, and business leaders need to cut down on travel costs—collaboration technology is the obvious choice. It cuts down on operational costs, and lets you skip paying for that flight abroad for a single meeting.

The investment can pay off in other ways, too. You can beat your competitor to market, by helping your people make decisions faster. And you can even earn more, by using the same tools to improve your customer relationships, sharing information between departments much better. As an added bonus, you can even cut down on your customer service costs.

And let’s not forget that time is money. If your people are using their time better, if they’re being more productive, then you’re getting more work done for the same salary.

The Trick is in Using the Right Processes

Where some companies fall down, and don’t get the benefit of collaboration technology, is not having the right processes and workflows in place. It isn’t enough to just introduce video-conferencing, for example. You need to make it part of your culture, and you need to make the user experience great, so people want to use it.

You need to make it part of everybody’s work. Make sure you give your people the training they need. Get your leaders to embrace the technology and use it. The rest of your people will follow then by example.

So if you want to save money and increase productivity, take one small step for your beleaguered colleagues trying to communicate with each other and embrace collaboration.

The Importance of Cloud-based Collaboration Services

Collaboration in the workplace integrates teams, helps to reduce costs, offers better client interaction, increases productivity, and improves efficiencies.

Companies should not be afraid of embracing the era of the digital employee in order to achieve business sustainability. Employees are already showing a keen interest in cloud collaboration technology, with desktop sharing the most popular application. This is closely followed by desktop video, phone-to-video calls, and mobile access to the corporate intranet.

All of these cloud technologies are also popular on mobile devices. And the drive for more intuitive applications within organizations, similar to those used outside of work, is expected.

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