Exploring the challenges of multiple communication technologies and the way they are unifying to become true enablers for business.
There was a time when communications across any distance were simple, if limited, requiring different methods for such forms of data as post, telegram or fixed line telephone. However, the need to communicate different types of information faster and in greater quantities gave rise to the development of multiple new communication technologies and increased the number of ways an individual could be reached at any time, for example email, voice calls or text.
This led to greater fragmentation in how we communicate, adding complexity and inefficiencies. The end user was – and still is – faced with a plethora of choices, all of which are useful but which do not work together.
This experience is not unique to communications. In the world of recorded music, for example, the consumer originally had a simple choice: the wind-up gramophone or nothing. Soon, however, consumers were faced with an array of frequently incompatible devices on which to record, play and store their music on vinyl, cassette tape or CD. Yet with the advent of digitization came a move back towards greater simplification of the user experience, typified by the MP3 and the iPod.
At this point, however, the parallel ends. The iPod has superseded other devices and acts as the point of convergence in delivering a simplified end-user experience. By contrast, in the telecoms world, the end user can choose the most appropriate device on which to receive their information be it voice call or data, as all communications will be routed through the cloud rather than sent through specific fixed channels. The challenge therefore is to unify all these communications tools to ensure a seamless experience, to the benefit of both the enterprise and its staff. From our many conversations with multinational corporate customers, we know this presents major challenges.
IDC predicts that, by 2013, there will be 1.2 billion flexible workers worldwide, one third of the total global workforce. This means providing people with the same experience they have in the office when away from the office. Yet mobile employees typically suffer from having to work with systems designed for a fixed environment and with tools that don’t work together. This is a problem that needs to be resolved quickly, as businesses tell us that the ability to provide flexible working is becoming a key differentiators in the battle to attract the best talent.
In terms of business agility, with the right management systems and processes in place, the emergence of innovations such as the tablet can be seen as a real opportunity to improve staff flexibility and productivity, rather than a headache resulting from the inability to assimilate it within existing systems and services.