Two specific trends have emerged, however, that promise to change how we do business forever.
One trend that has had a profound effect on the way technology is used in the workplace is the rise of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) or choose-your-own-device (CYOD) policies. Giving employees the freedom to choose devices that are best suited to their needs has been instrumental in helping businesses leverage the explosion of portable consumer electronics.
Where a company might have previously had a blanket business-wide rollout of one single mobile phone or laptop, BYOD or CYOD enables different workers with vastly different demands to get the right tool for the job. For example, graphic designers get access to the powerful hardware they need, whilst globetrotting sales teams can pick up a more lightweight Ultrabook with swift and simple functionality.
Furthermore, CYOD can help eliminate the need for employees to have two phones. Since participants in CYOD programmes can choose their own device, theyre far less likely to want a separate personal phone, especially thanks to the proliferation of mobile software that can help virtually separate work and home use. Overall, removing that extra hardware reduces complexity and hassle for the employee, and can wind up reducing costs for businesses.
Equally, the rise of Unified Communications (UC) is helping workforces become better equipped and more flexible. UC solutions link the various communication channels and devices that employees use, helping to maximise productivity and improve customer interactions. Benefits range from smaller productivity gains – like mobile workers being able to retain the same company number regardless of their whereabouts in the UK, and employees being able to see if co-workers are online at any given time – to broader applications in customer service and remote working.
A fine case in point is small charity Go ON UK. As an organisation dedicated to making the UK the worlds most digitally skilled nation, its small workforce is almost entirely mobile to allow it to focus on driving the campaign throughout the country. As such, using UC services alongside devices built for mobility has been essential to the charitys growth and success of its projects.
The built-in 3G slot in their Ultrabooks enables a consistent internet connection for Go ON UKs staff regardless of location, allowing them to remain productive while on long train journeys and away from WiFi access. This gives the team access to Outlook for ongoing communication, but also Skype and OneDrive to ensure they are able to communicate and work with their teams while away from the office.
UC also has implications beyond marginal productivity gains from remote working. For example, tying the phone system into a customer information database means that when a call comes in, relevant information about the caller can be automatically displayed on screen so that the employee has all of the information needed to offer the highest level of service, from who is calling to details of the last interaction and location data.
Overall, trends like CYOD and UC are indicative of the ways technology is shaping the workplace. Businesses can tailor their IT more specifically to the user, getting the most out of cutting-edge technology without needing extensive support systems. UC is a perfect example of technology offering efficiency savings, either through productivity benefits, or getting the relevant data to the person who matters most.
Adam Diggins isToshibas solutions and pre-sales technology marketing manager.