Ask any CIO what big trends are emerging in the workplace, and they are sure to mention the demands of the ‘always on’ and digitally native worker. Workplace IT is moving into the consumer space as employees increasingly want and expect to use their personal technology, which is often more advanced than what they use at their desks, in the office.
Recent research from IBM found that 49% of emails are now opened on a mobile device rather than a work computer. Combined with ONS reports that almost 14% of workers are now home based, it is clear there is a changing technology scene in the workplace.
If these trends continue, it will be essential for IT departments to prepare for this change. The options and tools are undoubtedly there, and as technology evolves the workplace environment becomes more efficient, flexible and relevant to the younger generations than ever before.
Last year, 22 million households had internet access, fibre uptake continued to grow and WiFi hotspots became standard – all of which presents an undeniably strong base to build on.
The range and standard of technology that businesses can now take advantage of is huge. From remote network access to video collaboration and new voice technologies, the UK has the network infrastructure in place to support both today’s and tomorrow’s demand.
A ‘perfect storm’ has risen for the CIO – a combination of evolving themes in the IT industry and wider workplace – which has made successful and secure implementation of IT into the workplace even trickier.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, where the cost of failure is ever more formidable, CIOs are required to work within extremely tight budgets while delivering IT services that are stimulating business growth. But CIOs can not only weather this perfect storm but prosper from it.
Like many things in life, the key to achieving this is for a balance to be found. CIOs should embrace innovative technology, including employee-owned technology, but also ensure they manage the integration of such technology into the company network.
Weather the storm
Instead of seeing employees’ choice of device and technology as threats to the network, they should be embraced. As long as there are clear, easily followed best-practice guidelines in place, systems should remain safe. This paves the way for traditional remote-working tools such as network access, and it delivers complete connectivity to business files.
However, despite an evolution in the way in which we work and collaborate, the importance of more traditional methods should not be underestimated. It is predicted that up to 80% of business still comes through incoming calls, demonstrating the importance for employees to still be linked up to the non-digital elements of the business.
As we all know, business is a cut-throat environment, and the cost of one missed call could cost a company thousands of pounds, with prospective customers likely to turn their attention to competitors if their call is not answered.
However, through the adoption and integration of next-generation technology, such as cloud-based services and apps, businesses can ensure they never miss a call again. Of course, this is all predicated on having a next generation data network because the delivery of these services needs a solid foundation.
Discussing the integration of business communication methods would be incomplete without touching on unified communications (UC), which makes it much easier for CIOs to manage costs by consolidating multiple communication methods and devices into a flexible platform.
By incorporating all hardware and software this way, organisations can reduce the pressure on their resources, including leasing options to eliminate capital outlay. The world of VoIP or SIP Trunking in all its uses is still in its infancy in the UK, and they offer a major opportunity to cut costs and improve services to businesses.
As CIOs continue to weather this storm, UC will undoubtedly continue to grow, with it acting as a tool to merge business and employee technology in a uniform and secure manner. Mobile devices have undoubtedly transformed the workplace – research from analyst house, CCS Insight, highlights that 80% of employees perceive mobile technology as critical to getting their job done.
However, employee demands are evolving, and simply having access to work emails on mobile is no longer enough. Collaborative platforms such as IM are now being embedded into mobile apps so employees have full access on the go – and UC can help deliver this.
Embrace, empower and succeed
The underlying challenge to do more with less is nothing new to CIOs, or the wider business community for that matter. However, what has changed is the role of IT resources – historically deployed in tight silos but now a fundamental part of the overarching business model.
CIOs have an incredible opportunity to deliver real, measurable value to the business with the opportunities presented by new technologies. The UK already has a suitable technological base for them to build upon – organisations must embrace these opportunities, transform their workplace practices and empower their employees.
Sourced from TalkTalk Business