Tag Archive | Collaboration

2014 the year Information Technology (IT) became “Our Technology” (OT)

2014 really was the year that was. Information Technology (IT) has for quite a while threatened to play such a fundamental role in our lives that we would struggle to function without it. In my opinion 2014 was the tipping point year where the silos between “technology” at home, play or work blurred into one – “a SMART one”. Through 2014 something SMART with a processor, memory, storage and a battery at its heart became the secondary brain that the developed/developing world leveraged to optimise and enhance “living”. Personal & work smartphones became just “smartphones” as BYOD moved from a disruptive marketing fad to an important catalyst for end user behavioural change within organisations. Mobile working, once the poor relation of “working in the office” became the must have work mode through 2014 opening the door to transformed organisational working outcomes through 2015 – watch this one as it should be the biggest technology user led transformation yet.

The internet of “stuff” (I’m bonding the Internet or Things and Everything) with sensor packed connected devices alwayshutterstock_156907532_smls on and transmitting data across the wireless airspace emerged as the new battleground for customer service and market control. The IOT/IOE topic gained a head of steam through 2014 but watch it fly through 2015 as connected devices leverage harmonised data to really behave in a “human SMART” manner. And as I briefly continue with the key stories of 2014, I will be remiss not to discuss the shift from “cloud HYPE” to “cloud RIPE” as cloud service providers on mass utilising software-defined datacenter, network and security ideals presented an increasing portfolio of real world, customer validated services that deliver essential outcomes to a now captive and receptive enterprise audience. Cloud is now here ………..

Phew – all in all there was an abundance of IT good news through 2014 that should act as a springboard for greater things through 2015. But was it all good news? Back to the recap, an ever increasing population of mobile device users, generating masses of then stored or transmitted information, talking to sensors that transmit or store masses of information, that interact with enterprise IT systems that process and store a mass of information and so on and so on must be a good thing. When leveraged for beneficial personal, customer, enterprise or society based reasons the potential to drive value is unparalleled. However that same footprint of rich, relevant, always increasing data/information is equally digital gold for hackers who aim to utilise it in completely different manner.

The result, 2014 also saw a rise to unprecedented levels of one of the biggest concerns now at the executive top table, “security breaches”. With hacks now the norm within end user, offline / online enterprises and even nation states, 2014 and the mass of data moving freely around the heavily digitised world changed the importance personal consumers and enterprise organisations placed on information security. Since the dawn of the modern IT era, IT security has been just that “security for IT devices” often developed and managed by technologists. 2015 will see a major acceleration of a trend already permeating the enterprise with IT security a fundamental core of “enterprise information security” (that adopts a holistic view of enterprise end to end business security posture that includes IT).  Security not a top priority through 2015? – not an option!

But no more talk about 2014, 2015 is here and its now. If 2014 was a dry run for the new face of people centric, end user fulfilling IT, 2015 is the year to make it happen. The end user is now king and long live the king (and queen). Stay tuned as we continue with this topic – (well at least for another 11 months).

Until next time.

Colin Williams

Twitter: @colinwccuk

The Future of Work

Defining the Future of Work

The premise of the recent Ovum Future of Work Summit, sponsored by Computacenter and Microsoft, was that the ways in which businesses work today is being fundamentally changed by mobile and social technology.

Over the course of the day presenters from a variety of organisations discussed how technology is redefining roles in organisations and enterprise social networks. If adopted effectively it can enable organisations to be agile, outcome-focused and more efficient, while at the same time increasing employee satisfaction, backed by new opportunities for performance analytics

There were 3 key themes that ran through the discussion topics

  • The Multi-Screen Workplace
  • Mobility
  • Social Enterprise

 The Multi-Screen Workplace

Users are no longer using a single (fixed) device on which they conduct their work, and, in common with a range of other research in the area, people are increasingly time/work-slicing across a range of different device types from laptops, tablets and smartphones and in various locations.  This is a blending of the workstyles with “work-life balance” requiring the provision of the right device for each user scenario.

The proliferation of tablets and other mobile devices are no doubt influencing this trend, as is the consumarisation of IT and the changing expectation of the new workforce entering the market (Gen Y). 

The general sentiment was the rate of change in the market is increasing  and that the consumerisation influence has led to penetration of Microsoft’s traditional enterprise dominance, with Apple and to a lesser extent Android obtaining Enterprise endorsement.

 Mobility

A portion of the event content  focussed on the technical solutions and tools that enable new mobile technologies to enter the enterprise environment, and the needs and solutions for appropriate control of these devices in the enterprise.

Clearly there are a range of form factors available but more importantly are the procurement models (BYoD vs CYoD vs COPE) and Platform types (Android, Apple etc) that are driving the need for a number of solutions. These could include MDM, MAM, MCM, Containerisation and Virtualisation – essentially these solutions can be attributed to the particular ownership model that is in play, or the range of controls that available. 

Beyond the technical controls (toolset) aspect, it was generally noted that there is a market maturity occurring, with organisations having typically deployed a tactical solution to resolve a C-Level BYO problem, but the vendors are quickly evolving up the stack into Application and Content Management solutions.  The major problem highlighted was how to resolve the “Corporate Dropbox” issue and that the successful vendors in this market will be those that view ECM as a central pillar of their strategy moving forwards.

Social Enterprise

There is a consensus that enterprise social/collaboration is a rapidly evolving area, borne out of a significant changing of the relationships between employees and IT departments – again manifested through the consumerisation trend.  There was a sense of the social/collaboration tools providing a real alternative to the email obsession, as well as more “human centred needs” of collaboration.

However, it is recognised that “social” solutions are challenging to implement and get right, for a number of reasons – they can be counter intuitive to some organisation cultures, supporting the views about the necessary sponsorship and focus to get it delivered, but when done and done correctly can deliver significant efficiency, value and engagement back into the business.

In a nutshell

  • Emerging trend of workslicing mean people are using multiple devices to work in new ways and at times that are new to enterprise
  • Drivers for major transition around mobility and introduction of consumer technology are Generation Y employees
  • There is a general sense amongst employees that they are “working with yesterday’s tools”
  • Enterprise IT is “normalising” with new solutions eroding Microsoft’s original dominance
  • 56.8% of FTE’s use their personal device to access corporate data (Ovum BYOD Study 2013)
  • The multiscreen workplace encompasses a range of behaviours/models including BYoD, CYoD, COPE – there yet to be consensus on which option is best/right
  • “Mobile First” is the ethos that companies must live by and adopt moving forwards. 
  • “Mobile First” will have same level of impact in Enterprise as the introduction of the internet
  • Development of a  new genre of collaboration software and tools, but there is a challenge in  recognising value and use cases for social tools in enterprise

 The rate of change in workplace technologies will not abate, with consumerisation and the demands of Gen Y employees entering the workforce, the pressures to evolve will continue. But as organisation and the nature of the work we do evolves the contemporary workplace needs to be on that can support today’s needs, whilst being agile enough to accommodate future strategies, working practices and technologies.

 

 

UC 2.0 an explanation of Unified Communications

As a recent joiner to Computacenter, it’s no secret I am no spring chicken. I have worked in this industry for close on thirty years so this has given me a great perspective on the changes we have seen take place.  When thinking back I can recall the Car Phone morphed into the Mobile Phone , and then into the Smart Phone.

The Web has gone through numerous phases of development, at the start of this century there was a lot of noise about Web 2.0 and what this meant for Web Services. Unified communications is no different , we really saw this technology  emerge in the early “noughties” and the big innovators were our colleagues at Cisco. They realized that being able to use the same network for both Voice and data  made sense. It took a number of years before what was called Call Manager became widely accepted but today we  recognise this as IP telephony (IPT) and we see this as industrial strength, mature and low risk solution.

Unified communications has  reached the second major phase it is development. We should call this “UC 2.0”. This type of multi-media UC emerged from about 2006/7 but really has only become more widely recognised in the last three years.  Microsoft were probably the first to move into  the second phase of UC development.   The same trend of increasing services and value is occurring, both Microsoft and Cisco recognise that the modern workplace can leverage a range of Collaborative services and this increasingly means in a mobile and remotely connected world.

“UC 2.0” offers Instant Messenger, Presence , Desktop Conferencing, Audio Conferencing , Unified In-Box,  Voice Telephony and Video Conferencing.  It can be accessed from anywhere where an internet connection can be made available. It still supports the traditional handset but many use a “soft phone”  – as it is so portable!  One key element is the ability to transition between these different media seamlessly, this is probably in my view one of the key ingredients of “UC 2.0”.

With further convergence of technology Smart Phones make excellent platforms for using UC, and both vendors support a wide range of devices.   We also see a convergence of traditional Telepresence and UC platforms.

This multi-media  world,  supports a  less hierarchical command and control style of organisation. Virtual teams can be quickly brought together, people can work from almost anywhere in the world companies can exchange a range of communications between each other securely, this  helps strong business partnership and enhance the business value chain.  At Computacenter many of our managed services customers can now contact us via Instant Messenger for example. As I said I like to refer to this as UC 2.0 , does this work for you?