This month sees the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web – the hypertext language that links documents, making the internet accessible to billions of people world-wide.
While most of us instantly think of consumer-facing websites when we think of the World Wide Web, it has also had a profound impact on our working lives. Many of the business communication and productivity tools we use today, involve a web-interface: email, instant messaging and, in many cases, video conferencing are just some of the most obvious examples.
As the World Wide Web has evolved, so have these tools. For example, email initially couldn’t support graphics and the first email attachment wasn’t sent until 1992. Video conferencing too, has evolved from offering a rather unreliable, jittery service to, high-quality, multi-party video collaboration available across a range of devices from your desktop PC to your smartphone and tablet.
The ‘first generation’ of web-linked business communication tools aimed at increasing productivity didn’t always help as much as we thought they could. They were often difficult to use. Some that were supposed to enable anytime, anywhere working in fact led to siloes and poor team relationships. In reality, until recently, consumer technologies hadn’t successfully crossed over to the corporate world and standard office technology wasn’t necessarily helping employees do their jobs any better.
But we are now seeing a new wave of business communication tools that really are increasing productivity, because they are humanising technology. These tools are designed to unite people by delivering communication and collaboration solutions that are so simple they become transparent.
They are putting the human connection back into business. For example, MIT Sloan Executive Education is using a virtual environment to enable geographically dispersed students and teaching staff better communicate and collaborate. Deploying a new model has extended the School’s reach to students who would not otherwise be able to participate.
Other organisations have also found that using a 3D world that looks the same to all participants and where everyone can choose their own, personal avatar, can help to boost productivity and efficiency across dispersed workforces.
In addition, a new type of employee is now clamouring for these tools. The Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) are the single largest demographic ever and, in less than ten year’s time, will make up 75% of the global workforce.
As a result of the World Wide Web, Millennials are wired differently than previous generations of workers. They are more comfortable with both constant collaboration and connected technologies than any previous generation. What’s more, they can’t really remember life without the web.
Research conducted jointly by Avaya and BT earlier this year shows that two-thirds of respondents from the millennial generation are frustrated with the technology available to them at work. Additionally, more than two thirds said better collaboration would help improve their efficiency.
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Most enterprise technology wasn’t built for the way Millennials expect to work. Continuing to rely on the same old enterprise comms will exacerbate problems and risk serious long-term issues with employee productivity and satisfaction – not to mention the dangers in terms of security and network management that come with employees taking the matter into their own hands.
Conversely, adapting business communication tools to be more appropriate for this new breed of employees will ultimately lead, not only to happier employees, but also to improved productivity, faster decision-making and happier customers – all key drivers of success for organisations today.
The integration of social media into the contact centre, is a great example of this. Customers get a quicker response and for many contact centre employees they are working in a medium that they are very comfortable with.
Business communication technology needs to continue to evolve with the World Wide Web, and other, future popular applications of the internet. This will not only help to ensure that Generation Z (born between 2000 – 2020), who won’t know a world without social media or next-generation communication tools, will continue to drive value into their organisations, but also that they will remain engaged, enthused and productive as they enter the workforce too.
Sourced from Garry Veale, president of Avaya in Europe