Written By: Susan Smithfield – Corporate Finance
New communication tools, born during the last decade and used largely in private lives, have pushed employees and employers to the idea that they can win time by using them in their enterprises. One-third of working time is devoted to communication; voice, video or instant messaging are constantly used by employees. As employees are used to employing all kinds of digital means of communication in their private lives, they also expect their employers to authorize their use in their daily work.
On average, employees earn 81 minutes of work per week using their own terminals (mobile, tablets, laptops).
And 49 percent feel more productive if they can use their own tools, from wherever they are, in groups or alone, out of or within usual working hours. The rapid rise in the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend is also bringing about big changes in business and information-technology (IT) policies, with more employees using personal devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops to access company data and applications.
VMware applied this strategy, and former CIO Mark Egan explained, “We moved all of the employees to personal liability and expense reimbursement. We were spending approximately $172 a month per user in the US. My savings are about $2 million…in the US”. With that extra $2 million, VMware was able to invest in IT programs it otherwise wouldn’t have been able to, such as upgrades to infrastructure and the security program.
New ranges of participative and communication tools are now entering enterprises.
To adapt to mobile work and team collaboration, these tools include file sharing, modification and storage systems, as well as powerful semantic search capabilities to help users retrieve content. According to a 2015 Google study, these features are the most important to “improve performance and collective performance” within the company. And according to a Lecko study, collaborative uses continue to expand with commitment and growth of 15 percent. This dynamic requires rethinking the organizational structures and modes of collaboration within companies, placing the human being at the heart of the digital experience.
What do we mean by “new” collaborative tools?
New collaborative tools enable communication (mail, chat, document sharing)—whatever the terminal used or the type of communication. This new generation of services requires the implementation of solid and secure infrastructures—complex but intuitive for users. Based on the integration of the most innovative technologies, companies will be able to develop new applications (augmented reality, virtual agents) through which, like magic, technology will gradually disappear to leave an incomparable user experience.
Let’s take the example of the corporate sales department of a bank; using advanced communication capabilities, file sharing and CRM (customer relationship management) integration, teams are more responsive and collaborate to react more effectively to business proposals. The communication between many departments (payments, cards, international transfers, IT development) to price an important corporate cash-management offer, for instance, would be highly facilitated by new tools of communication linked to their CRM tool.
Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) tools also have appeared as an answer to the growing trend of communication-tools usage.
Of course, one can imagine that sales forces could also gain in agility if the bank allows them access to those same tools, regardless of where they are: on the move, in the home office or on the premises of a client. Collaboration and mobility are two key issues that affect all occupations and functions in enterprises. The collaborative tool of tomorrow is emerging as an all-in-one, or cross-terminal, application that will allow the user to follow a synchronous and asynchronous conversation on a mobile, tablet or laptop. By facilitating the management, sharing and modification of its files, the collaborative tool of tomorrow will allow everyone to communicate and concentrate on their tasks in complete mobility!
Cisco recently launched a free platform called Spark, which is an important interaction tool for enterprises. It is, for instance, possible to:
- create virtual meeting rooms;
- communicate from inside or outside the company;
- exchange messages, files, videos, calls;
- manage simplified virtual meeting rooms (single sign-on, schedule synchronisation, windows integration, Firefox navigation).
The need for employee flexibility is for sure going to challenge IT departments.
Of course, it means more and different security tools for companies.
Many security policies have to be transformed, from password policy to device encryption, Wi-Fi settings, detection of jailbroken devices and so on. A mobile content-management strategy has to be defined, consisting of securing the company data present on the mobile terminal, while preserving user experience, whether the terminal is provided by the company or belongs to the employee.
It also means changing the policy for the distribution and provision of mobile applications specific to the company and to each business unit. Whether it is through private in-house stores or Apple Store or Google Play Store, the goal of mobile-application management has to be to identify the user profiles able to authorize (under controls) a number of applications to be selected and validated upstream.
Under the condition that the enterprise has a clear strategy and a willingness to adapt its ways of working, the technology will surely bring more efficiency in working relations.