Next week I will be hosting a webinar with my colleague Karl Lovelock, Vice President of IT and Sir Cary Cooper, Professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School entitled ‘4 ways to engineer a collaborative workforce – the IT leader's view’. But for those of you who just can’t wait till the 23rd July, here’s a sneak peak at the topics we will be discussing.
At Polycom we have identified four key areas for IT leaders to focus on, they are; driving innovation, increasing business potential, optimising IT budgets and future proofing technology. But what does this actually mean?
It means that there are four areas of consideration which should be top of mind for IT when designing, creating and supporting the workplace of the future. Research consistently shows that the top business objectives for IT centre on enabling the workforce through the right tools and solutions. It is through this that IT is adding value to the enterprise; tools let people achieve 100% of their productivity, innovation and creativity potential. This has a large part to play in expanding the capabilities of an organisation.
This is about enabling workers to be innovative. Innovative employees are the difference between being market leaders and market followers. This is not necessarily about equipping them with the latest futuristic technology, it’s about letting them get things done quickly, easily and collaboratively.
An open-plan office at GlaxoSmithKline leads to massive productivity gains and $50 million in revenue growth—from just one product line. How? By mixing it up. Marketers and salespeople were encouraged to move around and sit next to clinicians, clinical researchers and scientists. By enabling flexible workspaces the company found that a melting pot of different points of view and accidental conversations spawned new ideas.
But a flexible workspace isn’t just about open-plan offices, it’s about enabling people to dip into this melting pot from wherever they may be, and that requires unified communications. They need to be able to meet face-to-face as often and as easily as possible.
The right solutions can create a current for the flow of ideas, information and ultimately innovation.
So if the right situation can cause the conception of that idea, the germination of it is the part of the process that is key for monetising innovation. It’s all very well having an idea but if you can’t get your engineering, marketing and logistics teams together to define the process by which it can be sold, shipped, marketed, supported etc. then it’s no good. Successful ideas are ones that are tested in an environment where representatives of every aspect of the business can ‘trash’ them and look for the holes and solutions. Any new production or service for sale will have implications for every department.
At Intelligent Energy there are a number of teams engaged in the research and development of revolutionary energy solutions for a range of industries. This means that it is critical for the various engineers to be able to share and discuss CAD and technical documentation in real-time and from any location. By using video collaboration with content sharing they have been able to accelerate the development of modular, low carbon fuel cell systems. Probably one of the reasons they have been named one of Britain’s 100 Fastest Growing Technology Firms according to The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100.
Collaboration solutions make products happen by shortening the time it takes to get an idea to market.
Optimise IT budgets
You can’t make everyone happy, and that’s never truer than when it comes to IT. There’s a growing demand for visual technologies in the enterprise, including video collaboration. This can be a bit daunting for an already overworked IT manager. Don’t worry about it, the right solutions are easy to deploy and manage.
Modern enterprises are about being streamlined, including in terms of people. In the past year 65% of companies decreased overall headcount on average. It’s critical that IT can support a more complex collaboration environment with a smaller team. In fact, modern video conferencing is so well designed, it’s actually being used to support the roll-out of other (less user-friendly) IT solutions. IT departments are building a ‘launch a video call’ button into their help options.
Polycom systems are architected so that they don’t consume IT support, neither in terms of resource nor budget.
Future proof technology
You might think this is about making sure you are on the cutting edge of technology, but you’d be wrong. It’s about being on the cutting edge of business psychology.
Future proofing technology means aligning your technology with the needs of the future workforce, not trying to force the most technologically advanced interfaces upon them. According to Sir Cary Cooper, Professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School, the future worker has three key criteria for their technology whether at home or at work; flexibility, autonomy and ease of use. Give them these three things and they will be happy, and happy employees are productive employees.
This means identifying solutions which feel natural, as Professor Cooper says, “people like to see each other eyeball-to-eyeball”. It’s more natural to see the people we are talking to, we pick up on all the non-verbal cues they are giving off and begin to form better relationships.
So what can you do with this information? Just remember, to be a world class IT leader you need to focus on this four simples things. That way you will be seen to add value to the business rather than being perceived as a problem solver or cost centre. IT managers can make the organisation more agile and ultimately more profitable.
Want to know more? Join us for our webinar, where Professor Cooper will offer more insights into the mind of the employee and Karl Lovelock explains how Polycom practices what it preaches when it comes to collaboration.