It seems that every time you turn around there’s another advance in telecommunications, networking, or mobile technology. As a result of this constant stream of innovation, there is an increase in the means and opportunities for conducting long-distance collaborations. Here are some trends to keep an eye on in 2014.
The Growing Virtual Workplace
Once upon a time, employees left their homes, commuted to work, gathered in one building and did their job, then went home at the end of the day. But now, welcome to the twenty-first century, where the rules have changed. Professionals are finding it easier to work outside of the office, anytime, anywhere, and never set foot in their company’s physical office space.
The latest innovations make collaboration easier than ever
A Frost and Sullivan survey indicates that in the next three years, 39% of the businesses surveyed anticipate an increase in the number of remote employees, while 42% expect an increase in mobile employees. This demographic change is one of the most significant collaboration trends in 2014, one that bears close watching, especially when you consider the need for the technology and its requisite support; there’s an opportunity for new businesses to jump in and fill the void!
More Tablets, UC Clients, and Softphones
The same Frost and Sullivan survey shows an expected seven percent increase in business tablet usage, a nine percent increase in Unified Communications Clients, and an eleven percent increase in business-grade softphones, all within the next three years.
With increased adoption of mobile devices and unified communications technology, co-workers can collaborate across vast distances at their leisure. In fact, the ability to bring together people from all over the country (or the world!) with short notice means that a meeting can get scheduled and done with quickly, preventing holdups in actual work.
Hosted IP Telephony
The penetration of total business telephony users in 2012 was small, just 3.4%. The projected amount in 2016 is 16.5%. Hosted IP Telephony is ideal for large companies that have numerous offices scattered over a large area, as well as small to medium businesses, and it makes long-distance collaborations both easy and cost-effective.
Cloudy With A Chance Of …
You just knew that cloud technology was going to make an appearance here, didn’t you? Well, the Cloud UCC (Unified Communications and Collaboration) market has been experiencing steady annual growth, around 30 to 40 percent. While this figure isn’t anything too remarkable (yet), it’s definitely indicative of an upward growing trend.
Cloud and hosted communications simplifies collaboration, since it grants everyone involved easy access to the data needed to do their work. Consider if you will the implications of a cloud hosted UCC with inexpensive communications cost and simple access to the needed work materials. You can have two writers working on the same document, though they live on different coasts, while a handful of graphic designers pull some image files out and hold a meeting to discuss changes.
What It All Means
Let’s face it; most people hate meetings. Some meetings are exercises in time-wasting, or excuses for a few people to show how amazing they think they are and try to impress everyone else. Even in those cases where meetings are justified, they are often a pain to organize and plan, as numerous people with vastly different schedules try and come up with a common time that doesn’t inconvenience anyone.
With the advances in collaboration via UC, used in conjunction with tablets and smart phones, some of the pain of meetings can be removed, freeing people’s time to actually do the work as opposed to sitting around talking about it, or having their thoughts dominated by the mental image of a wolf caught in a trap, trying to gnaw its leg off in order to escape.
Photo credit: Saad Faruque