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Technological Trends in Productivity Tools

By Bill Hurley, CMO, Unify

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Bill Hurley, CMO, Unify

Benefits of cloud computing for the Productivity Tools:

The cloud enables tremendous flexibility and scalability. Cloud for productivity tools are all about subscription-based pricing, which eliminates the need to make a large up-front capital investment. Instead, users pay as they go, and they only pay for what they need. From a collaboration perspective, cloud-based productivity tools allow users to access data at anytime, via any device, generating greater efficiency and innovation. Unify harnesses all of these attributes of the cloud with both the OpenScape mobility platform and our newest solution— Circuit.

Big data analytics in Productivity Tools:

Big Data is not simple. The ability to understand the streams of data that are important versus “noise” is incredibly difficult. The ability to assign “relevancy” to the data, in order to ensure the right data is being incorporated into every collaboration experience or conversation, is a science that is still in its infancy. Human-generated big data in the form of social interactions and networks was almost impossible to measure up until recently. There are significant amounts of “big data” generated during every human interaction. Understanding which data stream is generating value is exactly what Unify is focused on. In order to provide value for collaboration and communication software, this type of big data analytics is required. Secondly, the ability to incorporate potentially “stranded” data that could enhance a collaboration or conversation session is even more challenging.

Steps to foster innovation and/or growth:

Good technology is only part of the solution. Before innovation and growth can take place, productivity tools need to be integrated, mobile, and scalable.

When it comes to integration, the over-arching goal should be to streamline the workflow, and make work as efficient as possible. If setting up a conference requires an additional, isolated tool, a business process is likely stalled. If productivity tools are well integrated into common applications and mobile devices, a communication is likely to be completed in less time.

Additionally, in order to truly deliver value, productivity tools need to be easily accessible by today’s workers, who are increasingly mobile. The tools must work across devices— from desktop, to laptop, to tablet, to smartphone — providing a seamless work experience between them.

"Productivity tools do not need to be expensive—on the contrary, if implemented properly, they should actually help companies save money"

Lastly, productivity tools need to be scalable. There is a learning curve associated with adopting any new tool. However, with productivity tools, once mastered, companies can enjoy the advantages of better communication and workflow, increased productivity, and greater engagement with employees, teams and customers. Once productivity tools are integrated, mobile, and scalable, the real growth and innovation can happen.

Other technologies for the near future:

I strongly believe less is more. We should start by in­tegrating technologies we have already come to know and love, rather than continuing to pile on new products and technologies. Rather than creating solutions for one-off prob­lems, we should instead, create one so­lution that caters to the on-the-go, any­where worker. Technology should work like the brain does, storing and manag­ing information through associations and conversation. It should be integrated into the way we already work, thus eliminating the burden of switching between different ap­plications.

Advice for CIOs:

Having been in and out of IT for more than 30 years, there are so many obvious statements to be made that it becomes almost insulting. Today’s CIOs get it. They have to be business-focused while creating efficiencies and growth at the same time. No one else in the enterprise is asked to do that, today.

One angle that I would like to share, that might spark a different view, is to pay attention to the rise of the services economy, or what I like to call the “New Demand.” Contrary to 10 or 20 years ago, companies now sell more services than goods. Companies such as Netflix paved the way for Airbnb, Uber, Spotify and others, to where we now live in an on-demand, subscription-based world. This has changed the way companies do business, and people live their lives. As the guardians of corporate IT, CIOs should understand how the cloud, enhanced network connectivity, virtualization technologies, SaaS business models and other technologies are all affecting this shift, as well as how their organization can remain nimble amongst competitors.

As a result of the New Demand, customers not only want to be engaged across every phase of the buyer journey, but they want the engagement experience to be fluid, consistent, and comprehensive. The days of “dial 1 for sales, 2 for customer service” are gone. The engagement experience of today requires access to all information and knowledge across the relationship spectrum at every in­teraction. Simply put, customers expect companies to “get them” and to know what they need. This is incomprehensible in the traditional IT world, where each phase of the relationship or transaction is cleanly and clearly delineated. Those days are over. There is a competitive ad­vantage to be had, but the CIO of today must be the leader of uncovering the op­portunity, and then they must have the abil­ity to communicate – in business terms – the business benefits of all of these technologies that are upon us.

Along with this, today’s CIO must not only partner with the CFO, CRO, and CEO, but in fact must be attached at the hip with the CHRO. Technology, employee satisfaction, and corporate success have rarely been successfully aligned. The CIO who can articulate how a solution not only improves processes and efficiency, but that it does it while enhancing employee satisfaction, will ultimately drive growth.

Technology to mitigate rising Productivity Tools costs:

Productivity tools do not need to be expensive—on the contrary, if implemented properly, they should actually help companies save money. With the recent explosion of the services economy, IT infrastructure costs are now covered by subscription models. There isn’t the up-front capital investment there used to be. Engineers, developers, and other employees, now have the freedom to develop new ideas, and provide customers with improvements more frequently, which results in a better customer experience. Thanks to productivity tools, no longer does an “upgrade” from IT mean “rip-and-replace the infrastructure.” Rather, it involves a proper exposure of the collaboration or process-oriented software, without the up-front capital expense, that can enable creativity and innovation. 

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