Communications for the Modern Workplace

There's an IT revolution going on, and your employees are driving it.

IT executives are at the forefront of business transformation today. Working in close collaboration with lines of business, IT leaders are shifting their focus from running hardware and software to:

  • Using the cloud to solve business problems efficiently and cost effectively
  • Moving to digital business operations that are agile, adaptive, data driven, and real time
  • Reinventing business models in ways that require little or no investment in physical assets
  • Driving innovation in processes across LOBs—for example, by harnessing mobile and the IoT
  • Empowering people at all levels with Big Data-driven insights

But within most companies, there's another IT revolution going on—a quiet mutiny led by a new generation of employees who want and need greater mobility, efficiency, collaboration. Without the right tools to make that happen, not only will they be unhappy and look for other opportunities, but they will also be less productive and effective.

The fact is, younger, tech-savvy employees feel the need to bring into companies the applications and devices (if their companies have BYOD programs) that will help them be productive anytime, anywhere.

Most are using a fragmented mix of cloud-based applications like Dropbox, Google Docs, and Slack, for example, to help them get work done faster and more collaboratively. And to gain the mobility and flexibility they need to maximize productivity, they are circumventing archaic, complicated desk phones entirely, pushing work calls and information access to their mobile devices.

In the quest for higher productivity, they are orchestrating these disconnected mobile and cloud solutions—in conjunction with corporate systems—in an effort to drive the workplace innovation they need to work better, faster, and smarter.

Is your IT ready for modern business communications?

If person-to-person business communication and collaboration has not been a strategic area of innovation for your company, you're not alone.

Most businesses provide employees with a fragmented mix of email and calendaring; an overly complicated, on-premise PBX and IP-PBX phone system that ties them to their desk; a chat or instant messaging system; a corporate-owned or BYOB mobile device; an in tranetbased docushare site; and a teleconferencing service. Within larger organizations, employees are routinely issued corporate mobile phones, as bring-yourown-device (BYOD) programs have seen limited adoption. This means employees are forced to carry two devices—and at least amongst millennials, IT sees very limited adoption.

Millennials, in particular, want the freedom to choose the core tools they use every day, and instinctively, they reach for their mobile phones.

These fragmented technologies have helped to accelerate communications and collaboration. (Imagine the effort needed to simply organize a meeting without calendaring software!) But they leave employee communications, information access and attentions fragmented; valuable worker productivity on the table; and employees bound to desktops when they want—and need—to be on the go.

Equally important, it's easy to overlook the fact that in the end, person-to-person communications technology is personal, even in the enterprise.

So it's vital that corporate IT departments develop a strategy for modern business communications that embraces the devices their employees are most comfortable with—their own—without sacrificing essential company safety and control.

Big trends are reshaping employee expectations.

Today's workforce is changing rapidly. In 2012, the Gen X labor force (52.9 million) became the largest generation in the workforce, overtaking the Baby Boom labor force. But according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, this trend likely ended this year. Today, more than one in three American workers are Millennials (adults ages 18 to 34 in 2015), making them the largest share of the American workforce.

At the same time, we're seeing continued convergence of cloud and mobile technologies. Technology is adapting to the needs of mobile workers, enabling them to use their smartphones to securely access innovative cloud apps and data sources anytime and anywhere.

These two trends have laid the groundwork for the following big shifts in the workplace—and people's expectations from a business communications perspective.

"Millennials have grown up with technology at their fingertips, and they are quick to bring their preferences to the workplace. While other demographic groups have been convinced of the merits of a cloud-based delivery model, for Millennials, it is a more "natural" choice and solidly in their wheelhouse," according to a Broadsoft Global Survey.

"It should be no surprise that as they have begun to move into management positions and make business-impacting decisions, cloud adoption is accelerating across organizations of all sizes."

Millennials have raised the technology bar.

For millennials, the world of modern business communications is far removed from the cluttered desks of the 1990s. For them, work should be 100% flexible and effortlessly mobile so they can send and receive communications and information across any medium in the moment.

Nurtured by vast social networks and powered by shiny pocket computers, Millennials bring a fresh set of expectations to the workplace focused on mobility and connectivity. They shun being tethered to an archaic desktop work environment and thrive on flexible work schedules and

remote work lifestyles. They demand and embrace new, collaborative technologies with ease. Instead of hopping on a call using a bulky desk phone or buying CDs to download the latest software, they're using tools like Slack, Google Hangouts, HipChat, Salesforce, Dropbox, and Google apps to create, share, and communicate—instantly. And as shown in Figure 1, their business dialogs move from documents to a conference call, to a meeting and then to a voice call, to email, video, and back again. More often than not, they will use their personal mobile phone for all of these communications.

The challenge for IT is to create this kind of work environment— one unencumbered by disconnected, on-premise legacy systems. Equally important, it's easy to overlook the fact that in the end, person-to-person communications technology is personal, even in the enterprise.

So it's vital that corporate IT departments develop a strategy for modern business communications that embraces the devices their employees are most comfortable with—their own—without sacrificing essential company safety and control.

Work has shifted to mobile devices.

As more productivity tools and integrations to back-end systems are accessible via the cloud, phones have become the center of the universe.

Yet, within many businesses, phones are one of the last things to migrate to the cloud.

At the same time, modern workers have gone mobile. They are no longer willing to be tied down by clunky software or hardware, and they fully understand that with an ecosystem of mobile devices and apps at their fingertips, they don't have to be; productivity is never more than just a few clicks away. At the same time, they want the freedom to choose their core tools, and instinctively, they reach for their mobile phones.

For Millennials, mobile phones are extensions of who they are. And for the general population, dependence is the norm. In fact, in one survey, 9 out of 10 Americans said they won't leave home without them.

Faced with this new generation of mobile-first employees, savvy IT organizations are embracing the devices their employees are most comfortable with and pushing more corporate information and core processes out to them.

Remote and mobile workforces need to stay connected to companies.

More people are working from home or remote offices than ever before—whether as employees, contractors, or consultants. For example, currently, 53 million Americans are now freelancing, and together contribute over $700 billion to the U.S. economy. Companies have benefitted as well by gaining access to a limitless pool of talent around the world.

Because with laptops and mobile devices in hand, people are freed by the cloud to collaborate and work productively no matter where they are.

Armed with portable devices, cloud solutions, and conferencing tools, workers no longer need to be at an office to achieve maximum productivity. For them, the term "office" can mean the local coffee shop, the kitchen counter, an airport during a layover, and everything in between.

Work is always-on and everywhere.

Work is increasingly always on and everywhere you want to go. As noted by Jeremy Myerson, Co-Editor of Time & Motion: Redefining Working Life, "In the workplace of pre-internet technologies, the average work day ended when the factory gates or office doors closed. The contemporary information worker labours in a 'factory' where the gates never close and with work continuously and tantalizingly close to hand around the clock."

Simplify the move to modern business communications

Forward-looking IT leaders are responding to these trends by deploying modern, integrated, business communications solutions that work for Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers alike. These solutions, which encompass voice, messaging, video, meetings, and document sharing on a single, integrated platform, are centered around each user to deliver an incredibly agile, flexible, mobile work experience.

For example, through a simple to use user interface, a user can receive a voicemail message and choose to access it through email or a mobile device. If the sender is online—as indicated by presence information viewable through the platform interface—and is currently accepting calls, the response can be sent immediately through text chat or video or cell phone call. Alternatively, they can send a non real-time message, which the receiver can access through a variety of media and devices. As this interaction occurs, both users see contextual information about the other party, such as recent emails, documents sent and received, current presence information, calendar data, and more. They can even share documents and view them together in real time.

This kind of seamless collaboration is possible with enterprise-class solutions like Dialpad—the people-first conversation and meeting app created by the team that brought Google Voice to millions of users.

Dialpad runs in the cloud on a telephony backbone that's designed to scale instantly and deliver enterprise-grade IT security.

There's no need for equipment, time-consuming hardware maintenance, or an on-premise telephony closet—not even company-issued mobile devices. It deploys in days and makes your IT department a true solution provider by:

  • Turning every employee's personal mobile device into secure desk/office phone, complete with all of the features of a corporate PBX so people can connect and collaborate seamlessly and professionally outside office walls
  • Ensuring crystal clear call quality that your people will love, because Dialpad uses Google's open source WebRTC and the OPUS codec
  • Delivering a fully integrated set of tools such as an online meeting app, personal conference lines, chat/IM, and document sharing for mobile devices so in-office and remote employees can be fully productive anytime, anywhere
  • Integrating with the top productivity tools that Millennials want, including

Salesforce, Evernote, Hipchat, Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps for Work, and more

  • Enabling communications instantly as your business opens new offices anywhere in the world—even emerging countries—using a simple Internet connection
  • Enabling mashups with other enterprise cloud and onpremise applications such as CRM, accounting, billing and other systems so specific users can access relevant data while communicating with people through Dialpad (for example, latest invoices and payment records, last contact records, and more)

Expect big benefits.

By harnessing the right combination of cloud-based technologies, innovative IT leaders can transform their workplace and meet the communication and collaboration needs of all of their workers. And once deployed, cloud solutions unleash a wealth of benefits for your business. For example, Dialpad customers realize:

  • Higher employee productivity. By making communications more efficient and faster, cloudbased communications solutions make employees of all kinds happier and more productive.
  • More satisfied customers. Your business can respond faster and in a more agile, collaborative way to customer requests.
  • Cost savings. Using a cloud solution for business communications eliminates the need for costly start-up and ongoing capital expenses and frees up limited IT resources for more strategic initiatives.
  • Secure BYOD. With solutions like Dialpad, you can safely roll out BYOD programs, as the solution enables people to make secure work calls using their personal device using an app that runs on their phone. So IT never loses control, and if employees leave the company, IT can wipe the app and all data access instantly.
  • Simplified IT. By eliminating PBX systems (which can take weeks of dedicated IT resources just to set up) and the need deploy and run a mix of standalone productivity tools, you can simplify IT, centrally manage business communications systems, and enjoy automatic upgrades and maintenance, which frees up internal resources and budget for mission-critical IT initiatives.
  • Easier hiring and retention of Millennials. You can make your company more attractive to Millennials who actively seek out innovative employers that understand and embrace the power of cloud.

So what about your business? Are you ready to move to modern business communications that run in the cloud?

To begin assessing your current state, consider the following questions:

  • To what degree are your employees actually using their desktop phones? What percentage of work calls end up being handled via their personal mobile devices? Work-issued mobile devices?
  • If you do not have a BYOD program, do you get complaints about having to carry to mobile devices? Would you move to BYOD if you could ensure data security and business continuity?
  • How much are you spending on telephony and PBX systems overall? And per call, when all costs are taken into account?
  • How much time does IT spend setting up new users? And running and maintaining existing equipment and wires?
  • To what degree has your company already moved email and file storage to the cloud

Learn more.

Why not start delivering innovative communications tools in a way that makes users happy and more productive—and meets your IT department's requirements for security, cost effectiveness, scalability, quality, and ease of maintenance? The time is right, as new, proprietary, enterprise-class platforms built on WebRTC are now available for midsize and large companies that can deliver the powerful, cloud-based business communications that Millennials and Baby Boomers love to use. All of this functionality can be delivered to employees as an integrated, easy-to-use solution with a user interface that even seasoned workers find easy to understand, use and adopt.

If your company has already moved your email and file storage to the cloud, your phone system is ready to make the transition, too.

Built for the modern worker in mind, Switch can help you optimize worker productivity, empower your users, and grow your business. It offers a cloud-based platform with tools designed to provide businesses unified communications services on any device, including a company mainline, custom IVR, integrations, and more.