In our previous article we took a broad look at video conferencing – analysing some of the key themes of just why it is so integral to the changing work culture that is being seen across the globe.
One of the dominant concepts we discussed is the way in which video conferencing helps free up the time of employees – allowing for the creation of a far more productive and seamless sales pipeline. However, in this article we wanted to slightly shift our perspective and look at how video conferencing has helped contribute to the consumerization of the modern workforce. Consumerization is a decade old term that refers to the change in the way workers interact with technology in the workplace.
Whereas previously advances in technology came from the top down – seen first and foremost in enterprises before filtering down to the consumer, over the past ten years we have seen a radical shift to where employees are often the first to utilise the latest technology. And so much more than that – employees no longer see a differentiation between the technology they use at home and at the office. This new generation of workers grew up with the internet and technology – their whole world view is moulded around the technology that gave us smart phones and the internet. This means it is wholly unsurprising that they demand from their employers the same level of IT that they have access to at home. This situation is known as the consumerization of IT and was first proposed in 2005 when Gartner Inc. pronounced it as “the most significant trend affecting IT in the next 10 years.”
Of course, it is now over a decade since this statement was first made, and consumerization can no longer be considered to be a trend, but rather the new status quo. The cementation of this is mainly due to the dot-com collapse when the IT budgets of even the biggest companies shrank, forcing big technology players to refocus their sales strategy on the far bigger consumer market. With the latest technology starting at the ground and working its way up, modern employees are far more demanding and discerning in their technology requirements.
A perfect, if obvious example of this is Apple, who redefined the technology sector. Whilst previously the IT sector was focused primarily on large corporates or governmental departments, Apple regenerated this sector, creating slick and stylish personal computers which were matched by a refined and targeted process that put consumers at their core. And having recently been the first company in history to reach the $500 billion mark, there is no doubt that this is what the modern consumer demands. This entire process has changed the way workers approach IT at work.
It means that workers are far more likely to bring their own devices into work, use their own personal online service accounts and install their own applications. This concept of BYOD (“bring your own device”) is not only aligned with the desires of the contemporary employee, but can also help save companies time, money and resources on purchasing their own hardware as well as developing and maintaining an IT infrastructure.
This concept blends seamlessly with video conferencing. Relying on software alone and compatible with any device, video conferencing can help CTOs consumerize their organistaion. Requiring only a simple download and login, it allows employees to use their own devices from any online network anywhere in the world.
It also removes the network security risk that is the main challenge presented by consumerization. With each employee having their own personal device and the discretion to download and utilise the programming and software of their choice, IT departments are required to ensure their systems are not compromised. However, in most workplaces it is not considered appropriate to monitor what each employee is doing online. This would potentially cause not only an HR problem, but would also be impossible with the blending as more people are using the same portals at home and at work.
Thankfully, with video conferencing this problem is obsolete. Each employee has access to the software, which is linked via the cloud and not through a network – meaning even if they were to download anything containing a virus, it would affect their computer and quite possibly their ability to access video conferencing through that particular portal.
However, the company’s video conferencing would remain intact and the employee would still be able to login to video conferencing through a different device, which, given that according to a recent piece by the Guardian most households own 7.4 internet devices, shouldn’t prove too problematic. The show, as they say, should metaphorically have absolutely no problem going on. Taking this one step further, it seems highly plausible that moving forward companies will simply invest in portable devices – choosing to offer their staff mobile phones, laptops and, even possibly, tablets instead of desktops. This anticipation of their needs should serve companies hoping to remain fresh and relevant to not only their consumers, but their employees. In fact, according to an article by Forbes, we are already seeing the first tentative steps in the move towards a “portable economy” – that saw 83% of organisations plan to invest in mobile technology in 2014 whilst 36% of enterprises are investing in cloud based technology, a natural marriage to video conferencing that we will discuss in further detail in a subsequent blog.
There is little doubt that video conferencing can help companies embrace consumerization. This march forward must form part of any businesses’ long term strategy who hope to be able to retain a productive, agile and motivated staff.