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Collaboration success relies on giving employees what they want

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Enterprises must understand how the workforce operates before embarking on new communication quests.

Businesses are using a variety of technologies to carry out mission-critical operations in today's fast-paced and unforgiving corporate environment. To maximize performance, decision-makers need to deploy tools and applications that support the way employees want to work without introducing unnecessary complexities that will ultimately impair efficiency. Because there are so many services to choose from, enterprises need to map out their IT strategies in advance to reduce complications.

If organizations want to succeed, they need to have a strong collaboration process. This often means implementing an advanced business phone system that can be incorporated with the applications and features individuals need to complete mission-critical tasks. Beside the basic voice communication services, however, decision-makers need to deploy other interactive tools, which could include video conferencing, document management services and other technologies that make it easier for colleagues, partners and customers to share information.

A recent GigaOM report highlighted the importance of deploying technologies in the workplace that employees will actually use without encountering too many complications. After all, if enterprise deploy a communication platform with irrelevant phone system features and tools, individuals will not use the solutions appropriately, which will result in lower collaboration and overall performance levels.

GigaOM stated that companies should assess the current workplace and determine which existing services need to be replaced, augmented or thrown out. By speaking with employees and understanding what processes work and which procedures just waste time, decision-makers can take steps in the right direction to boosting efficiency.

"I advocate going on a ride-along … to see what they're actually doing. Spend time with them. Bring them in for focus groups," said Brian Katz, executive at the drug company Sanofi, according to GigaOM.

Rather than blindly rolling out an application before having it approved by at least part of the workforce, executives should collaborate with employees to understand what industry trends are impacting their demands and how embracing those strategies could result in higher productivity levels. In many cases, the ongoing consumerization of IT and the adoption of mobile technologies in particular is having a major impact on the business world as a whole.

Developing a mobile plan

Enterprises should consider embracing a "mobile-first" strategy, as this will encourage companies to design applications, solutions and operations around the ongoing proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other gadgets emerging in the workplace. However, while this is important, GigaOM noted that a mobile-only strategy can be dangerous. This is largely due to the simple fact that many employees still use old phone systems because they are comfortable with doing so.

While the concept of using older office phone systems may not necessarily apply to millennials, it is still important to maintain at least some legacy solutions in the workplace to cater to the needs of older employees. At the same time, decision-makers need to understand the inevitability of the mobile landscape. A report by Gartner highlighted how the majority of information workers will be accessing critical applications via mobile devices by 2015. Although creating innovative solutions to suit these needs may be challenging, it will be increasingly important as the business world evolves.

 

 

"But the growing use of mobile devices for work demands that they support video on such equipment for internal and external uses. The challenge is more than just mobility. It also concerns heterogeneity, as Gartner predicts that, by 2014, 90 percent of organizations will support corporate applications on a variety of personal devices, from conventional laptop PCs, media tablets and mobile phones to hybrid or other kinds of devices that have yet to be made widely available," said Whit Andrews, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

 

 

Andrews said keeping employees happy in today's mobile landscape means engaging them on the platforms they have chosen, regardless of whether those tools are tablets, smartphones or another device with a new operating system. Because keeping individuals happy when an organization is trying to support a robust and effective remote workforce, decision-makers need to consider embracing bring your own device. By adopting a BYOD mentality, people have the right to leverage personal gadgets in the workplace, so long as they do so while still abiding by the rules that govern the company.

 

Analysts predict that a number of communication and collaborative efforts will fail in the coming years because executives did not take into account varying user preferences, which leads to internal strife and lower performance levels. By planning ahead and working with trusted service providers and consulting agencies, enterprises can embrace the applications, tools and devices that their current and prospective workforces demand in order to carry out mission-critical operations. If organizations fail to take all preferences into account, they will have trouble functioning as the rest of the IT landscape moves on without them.