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A Q&A with Logicalis US Communications and Collaboration Expert Ron Temske

User experience.  It’s the benchmark for everything CIOs do today – and will do tomorrow.  And it’s driving a number of very significant changes in the way people work, how they define what “work” looks like, and how the IT department prepares to support this new paradigm

Logicalis recently conducted a study of more than 400 CIOs worldwide, and one of the top findings was that 42 percent of CIOs around the globe are embracing the idea of becoming an internal service provider or IT services broker rather than implementing every new technology their users need in house.  By refocusing their time and attention on the real end goal – productivity at work – rather than the underlying technology, CIOs are better able to show their value to the organization and are giving themselves much-needed time to look at what’s on the horizon and prepare their infrastructure and organization for the changes that lie ahead.

Q: How does this shift in thinking apply to CIOs as they plan their communication and collaboration strategies?

A: The once very different worlds of consumer and enterprise technologies are beginning to merge. When we looked at the trends on the horizon in the C&C space last year – which is, after all, one of the places that IT trends are first evidenced – we saw that the idea of persistence was gaining ground. In that instance, “persistence” meant the ability to transfer conversations or documents back and forth between devices, but if you look at how that trend has evolved, it’s that the worlds of consumer communications tools and devices and enterprise tools and devices are merging. And they have to. People – particularly millennial workers who are quickly becoming a very important part of the workforce – want fluidity in the way they work. They want their communication tools to be as effortless to use as if they were an extension of their own brains or bodies.  They want tools that work the way they want to work – on the go, anywhere, anytime – and they want to be able to move conversations, workloads and ideas back and forth between devices with ease as they move throughout their workday and throughout the world.  So, if you want to know how you’re doing in terms of your organization’s communication and collaboration efforts, just ask a millennial what they think of your organization’s capabilities; what millennials say about your communication and collaboration capabilities can tell you a lot.

Q: Supporting the huge variety of communications and collaboration tools on the market today is something CIOs won’t want to do – just hosting the incredible variety of toolsets alone is enough to give them a headache that drives them to the medicine cabinet looking for relief, right?

A: Well, it could be, but instead of the medicine cabinet, they only need to look to the cloud.  These collaboration toolsets are all moving to the cloud.  That’s why it’s so important for CIOs to become internal service providers and to create a culture in their IT departments that changes everyone’s thinking from technology-based to becoming a services defined enterprise. You’re right, they can’t support all those technologies in house.  But they can broker the use of those technologies as a service from the cloud.  These kinds of subscription-based cloud tools will support everything from enterprise-scale video conferencing systems to physical desktop phones to mobile phones.  Even via a mobile phone, users will be able to participate in enterprise collaborative experiences that mirror the ease and flexibility of consumer applications with significantly enhanced feature sets.

Q: These ideas really focus on the way the enterprise worker communicates with colleagues, customers or partners – more of a B-to-B focus.  What about B-to-C – what’s happening there?

A: We’re seeing a lot of customization and integration of collaboration tools into basic business functions that will deliver a more personalized interaction between businesses and their end customers.  For example, imagine you’re booking a cruise.  You’re online and you have questions.  If there’s a button there that says “push to talk to a customer service representative,” you know you can get help right away.  If you push that button and a video screen pops up and you can have a live, face-to-face chat with that person, the whole experience has just become so much more personal to you – it really becomes “the next best thing” to sitting in a travel office face to face with the person who is helping book you on that cruise.  That kind of collaborative experience extends the boundaries of the enterprise to wherever the customer needs that interaction to take place.

Q: What can CIOs do today to get ready?

A: One of the biggest things they can do now is to prepare their mobile networks.  Most organizations simply don’t have the wireless infrastructure in place that they will need to support this kind of communication tomorrow.  For example, if you don’t yet have 802.11ac wi-fi in place with location-based services enabled – and even if you’re not using all those services today – you should consider an upgrade now.  It’s also important for CIOs to solidify their cloud strategies and what role as-a-service subscriptions will play in the way they deliver next-generation communication and collaboration solutions to their users.  And they should spend some time thinking about the user experience they want to deliver – it’s important today, but in the near future, the sophistication of communication and collaboration tools that allow people to work anytime, anywhere and give them the power to truly maximize their workday will become a deciding factor in whether the most talented individuals accept positions with those organizations or whether they choose to work for a competitor who has a better communication and collaboration strategy in place.

Want to learn more? See the trends Logicalis US identified in 2015, and compare them to what’s on the horizon for this year and beyond. You can also watch a video about communication and collaboration and explore the journey you’ll need to take to prepare for what lies ahead.  Interested in learning more about the transition from technology-defined to services-defined thinking? Watch a brief video, read a press release, or download a white paper: “Why Every CEO Wants to Lead a Service-Defined Enterprise and Why the CIO Needs to Make It Happen.”