Too many businesses leaders think that technology is a second-best substitute for face-to-face meetings, but Generation Y doesn’t think like that. Generation Y knows that technology improves traditional collaborative processes, enhances the output of meetings, and augments the contribution of each individual. Just as sharing and collaboration are the defining characteristics of our personal lives, we expect similar levels of effortless transparency at work.
In a recent survey, two-thirds of employees stated that they felt it was important for their employers to be a leader in unified communications and collaboration (UCC) technologies. This is in stark contrast to the 73 per cent of decision makers who expressed that the end users had very little influence on their UCC plans. Clearly, there is a need for greater communication between the two—pun intended.
Empowered employees expect to use consumer-style collaboration channels increasingly in their work environment. As such, working patterns will continue to change; for example, company chiefs predict that more than half of UK employees will work from home within the next decade. The good news is that many businesses are changing with them—IBM’s global CEO study ranked collaboration as the number one trait that CEO’s seek in new employees as part of their efforts to create a more effective culture. Indeed, even Gartner recently predicted that by 2016, 50% of large organisations will have internal Facebook-like social networks; 30% of these will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today.
However, the pace of this change is not keeping up with rapid uptake of new collaborative technologies by consumers—our employees. Crucially, if they are not part of the decision making process, many employees are now apt at finding their own ways of collaborating that are easier, quicker, and more convenient, often ignoring company directives. While this can be acceptable to an individual, it heralds chaos for employer, as this kind of behaviour can lead to a tangled web of various collaboration platforms and tools, and can soon get out of control.
We’ve already seen consumer-grade technology transform the way we understand the world around us, and we’re starting to see an equally transformative effect on business. The right approach to technology can not only bring together disparate platforms, but also help to connect team members from any location or any device. Technology has the power to improve the traditional collaborative process, enhancing the output of meetings, boosting overall efficiency and bolstering the contribution of each participant.
Businesses must recognise the capabilities of technology to augment and improve upon face-to-face interactions, but unifying communications tools so that all elements of the collaboration process work with each other requires firms to invest in the right technology. SMART’s visual collaboration technologies enable us to interact in ways that are more dynamic, more frequent and more natural in the workplace. The result I’ve personally found is a more spontaneous and creative team that is better able to share ideas, respond to stakeholders and drive the business towards its goals.
The employees of tomorrow are only going to become more tech-savvy and more demanding, so the onus is on IT departments to find a compromise by implementing collaborative solutions that meet both party’s needs and help drive the business forward.