Technology is evolving every day. So much so that it’s mind-boggling to imagine what kinds of technology will be the norm tomorrow. One of the most exciting examples that continue to experience some of the most incredible applications is how we communicate. Information we can gather and share from a hand-held device is limitless. And, the role video plays’ has catapulted to center stage. For example, education has been transformed through distance learning using video to connect; telehealth is allowing medical experts to connect over video with patients who are located in the most rural locations; and organizations are using video to communicate with employees, recruit new staff and collaborate with clients and customers.
In the global workplace, new trends are impacting the way companies communicate and conduct business. Collaboration has moved to the top of strategic planning of both large and small enterprises, driven by the need to manage a distributed workforce, to speed product and process development, and to share knowledge and experiences among team members. And, as communication evolves, new issues are facing collaboration planners and IT decision makers. How do they remain competitive on a local, regional and global scale?
At the forefront, it is imperative to understand how our workforces are changing. As younger workers enter the workforce, they come armed with the latest mobile solutions that present generational differences – and challenges – with their coworkers as well as with management. Today, millennials already make up 40 percent of the workforce, on pace to break 75 percent by 2025. The result is that this generation grew up in a digital world vs. their older peers who did not.
So how do millennials communicate and where do they get their information? Unlike baby-boomers, many of whom still prefer to read the paper (as in a printed newspaper!), younger people rely entirely on 24x7 digital sources, including social media, apps and other online sources. They demand real-time tools that feature video—a mainstream communications preference for employees up and down the organization chart.
One of the biggest changes is the workplace itself. Gone are the days of employees commuting to work to a 9-5 brick and mortar central office. Today, many are working from home, at remote offices, on airplanes and in public spaces. They want flexibility, and facilities designers know it. There always will be large conference rooms for traditional meetings, but workplaces today are designed to include smaller collaborative spaces and huddle rooms.
Here are some steps enterprises should consider to improve unified communications and collaboration:
- To meet the needs of the changing workforce, senior executives and IT managers must first provide a forward-thinking communications strategy for tech-savvy employees. Outdated communications will risk alienating workers, which will hamper recruiting and retention. Adapt your corporate culture to a next-generation style of work, which enables remote workers to be part of the team. Bring video, instant messaging, chat and other elements into a comprehensive visual collaborations environment.
- Next, enterprises must make sure their employees are integrated into a mobile network that will allow them to collaborate in real time over audio, video and screen-sharing applications. Workers should to be equipped with software running on BYOD devices and PCs using a cloud-based video-conferencing-as-a-service (VCaaS) – a virtual meeting space that connects users from a variety of devices.
- Enable project teams with persistent virtual workspaces to track all aspects and communications of a project (chats, art boards, schematics, drawings and videos), giving the team members the ability to contribute and respond whenever and from wherever they want. Solutions such as slack.com help teams communicate effectively in today’s global environment.
- Communications solutions must maintain a consistent, reliable, high level of quality or workers will stop using them. Enterprises should plan their unified communications for growth and scale that also ensure flexibility, security and support. Mobility, hybrid customer-premise/cloud solutions, and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Skype are essential.
- Make user adoption a top priority. Continuously training staff at all ranks and making employees at all levels of technical competence comfortable with video conferencing and digital technology are essential steps in a successful communications strategy.
- Integrate video communications solutions into business workflow and applications, elevating their importance to mission critical. Integrating video technology inside of CRM, healthcare and recruiting applications are examples of how video technology is supporting business transformation initiatives.
- Engage a trusted communications advisor to guide your company. As new products and services greet the marketplace, enterprises are best served with a trusted advisor who has the expertise to support your current and future communications needs. Enlist experienced professionals who can recommend cloud-based solutions, including hosted and managed services that best fit your enterprise.
Today, businesses are quickly gearing up to welcome more and more young workers. In tandem, management must provide next-generation voice, video and unified communications. And to the extent enterprises can be ahead of that curve, may best ensure the recruitment and retention of these talented, in-demand employees, and the very success of a business.