By: Mike Constantine, CTO.
As I was struggling through the sea of traffic with all the other stressed Londoners trying to commute to work during today’s industrial action, I wondered whether the promise of Unified Communication had not delivered successfully to these office workers, or whether adoption or business culture has meant these people are still only ‘perceived’ as being effective when at their desks or in their meeting rooms?
What aspects of their job cannot be achieved using a UC solution which includes Instant Messaging, Voice, Video and Desktop sharing, that would give them (today at least) probably an additional 3 hours to spend working… or spending time with their families?
I would agree that with the technology available today, a UC solution can’t always replace a meeting in person. Some meetings where human or visual interaction is absolutely required, or the immediacy and creativity of people’s innovative thinking means UC doesn’t quite fit the bill, suggest that a commute to an office will always be part of our working lives. However, I challenge people to look at their weekly diaries and calculate how many of their meetings for this week could easily be achieved over UC? How much travel time would this save you? How much less stressed would you be… and therefore how much more effective might you become?
Working for GCI, a company with offices and employees in virtually every corner of the UK, operating without our Unified Communication solution (in this case Microsoft’s Skype for Business) would be pretty limiting given the amount of travel we would have to do. Looking at my own diary this week, of the scheduled meetings I have, 55% of my time is scheduled via Skype and the remainder is face-to-face. The face-to-face time is pretty much all customer or supplier related meetings.
The big question is how soon will it be before I could change that remaining 45% to a UC based meeting and be fully ‘untethered’ from the physical workplace? Ok, it may be a little while yet, but I don’t think we’re as far away as many might think. When I attended our stand at Microsoft’s Future Decoded event in London last November and had a tinker with the amazing Microsoft HoloLens technology, I could see a future where face-to-face meetings could not only be replaced by UC, but the technology could actually augment the content of the meetings to make them even more impactful than meeting in a physical office! I’m watching the advances in this space with interest.
As a Managed Services Provider, we work with lots of customers who are investing in UC to try and make their employees more efficient and their businesses more agile and competitive. However, much of this digital transformation is not really achieved by the technology… but rather via a fundamental change in business culture and process. The latter is probably the single biggest obstacle to fully untethering the modern employee. It’s exciting to help customers achieve this vision and see the transformational changes it brings to their businesses.
Hopefully, in the future, the niggly impact of industrial action will simply mean a change of ‘mode’ for the employee rather than a frustrating journey to their place of work. Viva la UC Revolución!