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Workplaces become workspaces: The consumerisation of IT

Every IT manager worth their salt has been aware of BYOD for years now. But in the same way that new iPhones are released with alarming regularity, the definition of the consumerisation of IT evolves on an annual basis. It’s no longer just about employees bringing their device to use at the office; enterprise users have to feel comfortable with the solutions they use in the office, both at home and on the go.

Modern enterprise solutions follow in the footsteps of consumer products like iPhones. The most successful vendors know that instead of reinventing the wheel, it’s far more helpful to develop solutions that are easy to use. The best products build on the familiar UI of consumer products which deliver an enterprise-grade solution.

This keeps everyone happy, especially the IT department as you get high levels of adoption from the get-go to drive ROI and you get the added benefits of enterprise level security and efficient use of bandwidth making the solution easy to support. Seventy eight per cent of millennials indicated access to the technology they preferred to use makes them more productive at work.

Ultimately, from an end-user point of view there is no difference between consumer and professional environments now. We’ve all become prosumers and the enterprise is adapting to that.

The changing shape of the workplace: be a round peg in a square hole

You might not have noticed, but for a long time people have been forced into unnatural formations in order to work in an office. It’s not human nature to be divided into individual cubicles, or to sit along elongated rectangular boardroom tables. None of these mimic the way people naturally come together, which, since we discovered fire (and pizza), has been circular. We like to look everyone in the eye whenever possible. It improves communication and makes us feel more comfortable; both being essential to a productive work environment.

Companies are realising the benefit of adapting the workplace to the nature of the worker, rather than trying to force it to be the other way round. IT managers tear their hair out trying to drive adoption levels of solutions, but if they aren’t designed around peoples’ needs, then your users aren’t going to use them.

The workplace of the future is people-shaped because with modern technology, any space can be a workspace. We just need to think outside the box (or boardroom).

Changing end-user expectations, when they know what they want and they want it now

One of the biggest challenges for IT departments and businesses generally is to keep pace with constantly changing end-user expectations. Employees walk into the office with Unified Communications in the palm of their hands. Their smartphones can allow them to have one login to access everything, whether that’s a Google, Facebook, or Apple ID; they get their voice, video, and content sharing, as well as access to collaboration tools in one simple interface.

This ease of use from their own devices means that end-users expect an even better solution at work. Unfortunately for IT, the age of upgrading systems once a decade is well and truly over. The pace of evolution in consumer technology means that end-users expect the same level of development in their work solutions.

End-users are unaware of complications such as networking demands, security and maintenance requirements, or storage shortages. As such, IT managers need solutions that allow them to present a modern face without consuming resource at the back-end. Hybrid, cloud, and on-premise solutions are appearing to fill this gap. Communications technology can experience massive spikes, for which it’s just not feasible to have on-premise resource available all year round. When the Black Friday or Christmas customer service calls hit a retail organisation, they need to be able to ‘burst’ into the cloud and seamlessly provide that extra resource without their end-users even noticing.

Thanks to the ubiquity of all kinds of technology in their own lives, end-users don’t expect to need to call IT for everyday occurrences such as scheduling and launching a group collaboration call. They want solutions that do it all in the background and integrate all of the technologies to allow them to get on with the business of collaborating on projects, ideas and plans.

Clever yet simple collaboration solutions like these, that don’t require IT input for everyday tasks, are helping to drive the workplace of the future without breaking the back of IT.

Marco Landi, President of Polycom EMEA