Why businesses must let employees choose the collaboration tools they use

As global competition between businesses to recruit the best talent becomes increasingly fierce, the collaboration technologies and tools available to employees – such as integrated messaging, voice and video services – can be the difference between strong hires and skills gaps.

In addition to potential recruits taking a stronger interest in the technologies used by businesses, existing employees are also becoming more tech-savvy and are likely to weigh up their employer’s capabilities in this area when looking at their future career options.

And recruitment is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to business areas affected by decisions about tools and technologies. How efficiently workers complete their tasks and how effectively they communicate are also dictated by the choices organisations make, for example, providing opportunities such as remote working and streamlined collaboration channels. Consequently, satisfying workers’ technology expectations should be at the top of business’ agendas.

>See also: Mobile collaboration: Bringing new-world communication to the enterprise

The rise of the super user

Recently, Telstra interviewed 675 IT decision-makers in private sector multinational organisations with 250-plus employees in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK and the US, to determine how workers were using technologies to communicate and collaborate.

The findings revealed a considerable opportunity for businesses to improve in this area – and potentially gain an edge over their competitors. It discovered that nearly all IT leaders find it challenging to implement the technologies employees expected in the workplace, which included remote access, desktop virtualisation and video conferencing.

Despite considering end-user expectations more than ever before, almost half think their business has higher priority IT projects than delivering technology that met these needs. The research also showed that improving the user experience, promoting innovation and enhancing internal collaboration are thought to be more important than security, efficiency and cost reduction IT projects. This suggests that many end users aren’t getting the attention they deserve.

The research indicated that employees are generally becoming more vocal about their technology wants and needs. This is good news for businesses as it drives productivity by helping lead the adoption of collaboration tools.

The bad news is that if IT departments do not respond to employees’ demands around collaboration tools and technologies, users are likely to obtain what they need from other sources – leaving businesses facing the emergence of ‘shadow IT’. Because shadow IT involves the adoption of IT by business departments without reference to the technology function, it can leave a business considerably more exposed.

Power to the people

So how can private sector multinationals – and other businesses − best manage the adoption of new collaboration tools and technologies in the workplace? The key is to take steps such as listening to employee expectations, choosing employees to champion certain tools and supporting the new technologies with appropriate security.

Catering for all is also important. Empowering a CEO to work effectively on the road will require a different approach to customer service operatives – for example, making it essential that communication tools mirror the different demands of the individuals. All of this should be done at a price point that is realistic – the zero capex option of cloud-based services is just one very effective approach.

>See also: So you want flexible workers – but do you have the right collaboration strategy?

Meanwhile, businesses can minimise resistance to change and maximise employees’ use of the selected tools by nominating selected users to champion collaboration and be involved in activities such as identifying user requirements, selecting the right product or service and training and advising its workforce.

To accommodate newer ways of delivering collaboration technology, including as a service from the cloud, an organisation should review its IT security, policies and architecture. This gives it the opportunity to embrace pay as you go and other innovative ways of delivering IT services to its business units. It can also help minimise the possibility of shadow IT emerging within those teams.

Businesses that allow employees to determine the collaboration tools and technologies they adopt can help businesses establish a culture of engagement and participation. By adapting this approach, innovation will flourish and businesses can be confident of luring the best and brightest new talents, in turn fuelling further success and growth. 


Sourced from Tom Homer, Telstra

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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