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Are your workplace tools driving the business results you need?

Last month I attended the Gartner Portals, Content and Collaboration Summit where Tom Austin presented on People-Centered Strategies (PCS).  In his presentation, Austin defined PCS as an organizational strategy that

  1. empowers people to take on demanding, non-routine tasks,
  2. enhances employees‚ abilities to make valuable contributions that has an impact on the business, and
  3. increases the workforces ability to do what they do well.

Although many organizations are moving to a PCS approach, I have wondered if those same businesses are giving their employees the tools and technology they need in order to deliver the results they are looking for. With IT spending per employee expected to reach an all-time high of $13,303 in 2012 according to Gartner, it can be a costly mistake to invest in the wrong technology, especially if it’s a technology for collaboration that is used by the majority of the workforce.

With almost 85% of companies having a remote workforce, the office of the future is no longer an office at all. As such, communication and collaboration tools will play a greater role in how business gets done. But the question remains, are companies arming their workforce with the right communication and collaboration tools? With so many players in the market how can you ensure you’re investing in virtual meeting solutions that will positively impact the organizations bottom line? Here are a few things to look for when comparing audio, web and video conferencing solutions:

  • Ease of use
    If a product is not easy to use, it won’t be adopted by the vast majority. Return on investment (ROI) can only be achieved if the employees actually use the technology.
  • Social interaction
    Simply enabling people to communicate doesn’t automatically ensure they will collaborate in a purposeful way. By investing in collaboration tools that integrate with social media companies can help foster relationships and facilitate the sharing of information between employees and their constituents.
  • Reliability, security and support
    Companies should treat video collaboration as they would any other IT application or service, and look for a solution that delivers reliability, security and 24/7 support.
  • Mobility
    With the rise of the mobile workforce, ensuring web and video conferencing solutions work on tablets and phones and still deliver a rich, interactive experience is key.
  • Leverage of legacy systems
    Introducing tools that either integrate or compliment existing systems is especially critical if your organization has adopted a global enterprise standard for collaboration.
  • More enjoyable meetings
    In addition to ease of use, tools that create a more pleasant meeting environment will be used more frequently, creating a more collaborative and productive workplace.

When implemented correctly and with the right technology support, PCS can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on the customers, employees and organization as a whole. Consider two studies highlighted in Charles O’Reilly and Jeffrey Pfeffer’s book, Hidden Value:

  • One study found that by using multiple samples and measures, a change of one standard deviation in an index of innovative human resource management practices produced increases of $20,000 to $40,000 in stock market value per employee.
  • Another study reported that companies that were one standard deviation higher in their use of high-performance work practices enjoyed more than $27,000 in increased sales per employee, $18,000 in increased market capitalization and $3,800 in profits as well as a decrease in employee turnover.

Is your company looking at or already deployed a PCS organizational approach? If so, is it driving the business impact you anticipated? If not, it may be the technology and tools supporting the PCS, not the approach itself. It’s important to make sure the technology you have rolled out is delivering the end-user benefits you were looking for, allowing employees to get their jobs done better.

Additional thanks to Doreen McGunagle and Frost & Sullivan for information used in this post.

 

Jan Correll is a proven sales leader with over 20 years experience helping build solid sales strategies. For the last 12 years she has held a Senior Sales leadership role at PGi assisting large global enterprises with their communication and collaboration strategies.

 

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