Friday, 30 August 2019 01:00

Unified communications, collaboration tools new ‘office of future’ staple Featured

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Unified communications and collaboration tools (UCC) are the new “office of the future” staple in Australia’s digitally-driven office, and anticipated to improve employee and business outcomes such as operational efficiency, employee productivity, and customer and client satisfaction, according to a new survey.

The global survey – of 2,000 IT decision makers, including 244 from Australia - found that UCC tools were “business critical” to the success of organisations, and investments in these tools need to be made a priority in order to support a growing remote workforce and the rise of digital natives in the office.

According to the survey by analyst firm Ovum on behalf of GoTo by LogMeIn - as “digital natives” enter the workforce, they need to be provided with the right tools, optimised for their success.

But as the modern office becomes decentralised, with more flexible work options, so too must internal technologies adapt to meet new challenges.

The survey found that these technologies are already becoming expected among employees, as decentralised and flexible work options trend - but while we have the ability to communicate more freely, we are also plagued by a plethora of programs and devices to communicate with.

In Australia, 78% of IT decision makers surveyed expect IT spending to increase within the next year for UCC deployments, aligning to their global counterparts at 76%.

However, it’s not just about finding a collaboration platform, it’s about finding one that meets the needs of a changing workforce that is seeing an increase in the number of employees working remotely, and digital natives entering the workforce as full-time employees.

In fact, the survey found that globally, 93% of respondents agreed that digital natives have different needs and expectations in the workplace, and over half of CIOs (56%) are looking to grow their collaborative software offering to meet that demand.

In anticipation for the growing digital native workforce many c-suite IT leaders have prioritised the following:

  • Increasing availability of collaboration software to employees (54%)
  • Encouraging remote and flexible work options (49%)
  • Ensuring UCC tools are up to date (48%)
  • Aiming to hire and retain digital talent (47%)
  • Seeking a best-in-class user experience (45%).

According to LogMein IT leaders play a more strategic role than ever before, and they need to consider whether or not to adopt new technology, and accommodate and support a diverse and dispersed workforce, all while keeping costs down and showing ROI for their decisions.

Key survey findings show that globally, 62% of CIOs consider communications and collaboration critical to the overall success of their business, and 75% of US CIOs echo this sentiment - while Australia aligns with the pack, sitting at 62%.

The survey reveals that the most important business outcomes Australian IT leaders are trying to accomplish through UCC tools are improving operational efficiency (44%) closely followed by employee productivity and collaboration (39%) and increasing customer or client satisfaction (30%).

And when dissecting the primary reasons for successful user adoption of UCC tools in their organisations, globally, survey respondents noted three transformative elements - a clearly articulated digital transformation strategy (57%), the consolidation of the technologies or platform (49%) and a move toward a more flexible way of working (45%).

LogMein says leveraging one UCC tool in isolation has become a thing of the past with 37% of Australian IT leaders surveyed reporting using more than four tools for their organisation’s communications and collaboration needs, while 12% said they had seven or more tools – and, in comparison, only 8% of global respondents use 7+ tools.

LogMein says businesses should future-spot and start moving to consolidate these disparate tools into a single UCC platform, and notes that the top benefits Australian respondents expect from this initiative are improved team productivity (55%), lower costs (44%) and easier management and administration (42%).

AI capabilities are continuously improving in ways that help employees, and in the coming year, more and more IT leaders will adopt AI technology for smarter, more efficient collaboration, LogMein says.

Australian survey respondents noted that 32% are currently using AI technology today (on par with their global counterparts), and 52% are evaluating the tech, having identified use-cases and rollout plans (globally 49% are considering AI).

When evaluating AI, the top four places Australian IT leaders are considering implementing AI for collaboration tools are personal digital assistants (59%), improved analytics for informed decision making (63%), employee productivity monitoring, and intelligent, automated transcription services (53%).

Commenting on the findings, Lindsay Brown, VP of Asia Pacific and Japan at LogMeIn said “Today’s CIOs and IT leaders need to play a more strategic role than ever before. They’ve got a new seat at the table and are expected to drive overall business strategy”.

“The very nature of the way people work is changing and that change needs to be supported through great technology that is simple to use, easy to adopt and painless to manage.

“IT leaders need to find technology partners that are meeting demands of the modern workforce. They need to support digital natives and remote employees to optimise today, modernise for tomorrow and set their employees and business up for long-term success.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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