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Impact of Technological Evolution on the Enterprise Communications Arena
By Andrew Mitchell, Chief Information Officer, Macpherson Kelley
Andrew Mitchell is an experienced technology leader with strong strategic, technical, operational and staff development skills working across global and local organisations. Andrew has extensive experience across different industries including telecommunications, FMCG, legal, pharmaceutical and IT consulting with 11 years working internationally across South-East Asia and New Zealand.
1. In your opinion, how has the Enterprise Communications landscape evolved over the years? How has technological evolution proved to be beneficial for Enterprise Communications today?
The last 10 years has seen dramatic change in the Enterprise communications Space (or alternatively known as Unified Communications) just as it has in the home. Myself personally have not used a traditional desk phone for over 6 years. Enterprise communications has moved from having a high investment in hardware (desk phones and servers or even a PABX), traditional phone plans with your telecommunications provider and of course software to utilizing any mobile device (be it a laptop, tablet or smart phone), a software application hosted in the cloud and a subscription based service. Not only has the individual business changed the way they can communicate but vendors and suppliers have had to change the way they provide their services.
From a business impact perspective, it can change the way you not just communicate but collaborate, if you want to! The technology change of Enterprise Communications has changed from being a purely internally based service to now brining your clients into the business. For example, we are working on a major project at the moment and our vendor is based in Brisbane and we are based in Melbourne. We do not use traditional email or phone calling to communicate. We are collaborating live in a shared workspace that enables us to work together as one. This includes video conferencing, document sharing and chat. I effectively look at my vendor as an extension of my team.
2. What according to you are some of the challenges plaguing Enterprise Communications today and how can they be effectively mitigated?
The biggest challenge is that dirty word … change. Like any project there needs to be a change element to ensure you obtain buy in across the enterprise. This is really a mindset change e.g. allowing your clients to collaborate with you in a more open manner. It’s a different way of thinking and working. Traditionally you work for company A and myself Company B, you may have a few meetings but the bulk of any engagement would be via phone and/or email. Now you can treat them as your team, they are just physically located somewhere else. It’s no different to having your staff located in various offices around the country. A good way to mitigate any challenges is to identify a pilot team who are keen to be involved, have a client they would like to engage more with and define how are we going to collaborate together and maybe pick a topic or project that you may be working on.
3. Which are a few technological trends influencing Enterprise Communications today? What are some of the best practices businesses catering to Enterprise Communications could probably adopt today?
The technology has really moved from a hardware, internally supported based service to software orientated hosted services. It’s also so much more affordable than it was 10 years ago. The technology trends are focusing more on how can you collaborate and work transparently with your clients/vendors/suppliers easily, from anywhere using any device. I’m sure AI (Artificial Intelligence)/Machine Learning will start to come into the fold as we have seen with Google Home, etc, in the home. In this case these systems learning how you as an individual communicate and work.
As mentioned previously, if you are embarking on an Enterprise Communications journey, identify a change champion who can help you sell the benefits regularly, get yourself a pilot team (and even better if your team is spread over multiple locations) who is at least up for giving it a try and let them go. Of course, obtain feedback on the experience and refine the process from there. Then for those who have Enterprise Communications, have you engaged with any clients yet? If not, do it! We have found working with one of our vendors using this technology has not just removed all that noise from the inbox but has made us work more as a collective.
4. Do you have any suggestions for our reader segment which comprises of industry veterans and young entrepreneurs from the Enterprise Communications space?
There are many offerings on the market at the moment and I’m sure there will be some consolidation over time. Because there are so many solutions on the market it can be a little daunting to review everything so if you are looking at investing in an Enterprise communications solution, focus on what is the outcome you are wanting to achieve and go from there. Working in the legal industry, I want less platforms not more. A one stop shop for my users to do their work and easy to use but if I do have to invest in an additional platform to meet a specific need then it must have open API’s. If it does not then I won’t even look at it.