IT as the Catalyst to Successful Collaboration

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Information about IT as the Catalyst to Successful Collaboration
Business

Published on September 23, 2014

Author: SMART_Technologies

Source: slideshare.net

Description

Executive summary:
Every company, of every size, in every corner of the globe collaborates at some level. At one end of the spectrum lies tactical communication and coordination between people, teams, partners and customers. The other end of the spectrum is reserved for those who are Collaborating with a “capital C” – in other words, who have established the tools, process and culture, and who have optimized their environment for Collaboration.
Enterprises have historically asked IT to drive Collaborative technology into their organization. The supporting solutions have evolved over the years, from simple, expensive, audio conferencing platforms to more feature-rich audio, video and web collaboration found in today’s integrated unified communications (UC) platforms. At the same time, most IT teams are faced with increased cost-pressure – in fact, many IT executives note they are actively deciding what NOT to spend money on, vs. selecting the best technologies to invest in. The end user has also evolved over this time - with today’s Millennials possessing more technical savvy and digital aptitude than most Baby Boomer and Gen X end users. These changes are converging into a perfect storm, creating an untenable environment for the average IT team. This begs the question: How can IT become an asset in transforming an organization’s ability to embrace Collaboration with a capital C?
This paper is the third in a series of publications that explore the insights gathered from the SMART Technologies Collaboration Council. The Council is comprised of collaboration champions from some of the most successful multinational organizations in the world, representing a diverse set of industries across finance, technology, academia and more. In this piece we summarize the Council’s views on IT’s role in enabling Collaboration with a capital C, including best practices and key actions an IT team should consider.

September 2014 IT as the Catalyst to Successful Collaboration How IT teams are enabling Collaboration with a “Capital C” SMART Technologies’ Collaboration Leadership Summit Series This paper sponsored by

Executive Summary Every company, of every size, in every corner of the globe collaborates at some level. At one end of the spectrum lies tactical communication and coordination between people, teams, partners and customers. The other end of the spectrum is reserved for those who are Collaborating with a “capital C” – in other words, who have established the tools, process and culture, and who have optimized their environment for Collaboration. Enterprises have historically asked IT to drive Collaborative technology into their organization. The supporting solutions have evolved over the years, from simple, expensive, audio conferencing platforms to more feature-rich audio, video and web collaboration found in today’s integrated unified communications (UC) platforms. At the same time, most IT teams are faced with increased cost-pressure – in fact, many IT executives note they are actively deciding what NOT to spend money on, vs. selecting the best technologies to invest in. The end user has also evolved over this time - with today’s Millennials possessing more technical savvy and digital aptitude than most Baby Boomer and Gen X end users. These changes are converging into a perfect storm, creating an untenable environment for the average IT team. This begs the question: How can IT become an asset in transforming an organization’s ability to embrace Collaboration with a capital C? This paper is the third in a series of publications that explore the insights gathered from the SMART Technologies Collaboration Council. The Council is comprised of collaboration champions from some of the most successful multinational organizations in the world, representing a diverse set of industries across finance, technology, academia and more. In this piece we summarize the Council’s views on IT’s role in enabling Collaboration with a capital C, including best practices and key actions an IT team should consider. SMART Collaboration Council Participants A Top Global Investment Group•Employees: <20•HQ: Dubai, United Arab Emirates•Locations: 3 countries? Volker Wessels•Employees: ~14,000 (2013) •HQ: Rotterdam, Netherlands•Locations: ~5 countriesIBM•Employees: 431, 212 (2013) •HQ: New York, US•Locations: over 170 countriesIntel•Employees: 105, 000 (2012) •HQ: Santa Clara•Locations: ~65 countriesPlantronics•Employees: over 3,000 (2011) •HQ: Santa Cruz, CA•Locations: ~25 countriesA Multinational Professional Services Firm•Employees: 175,000•HQ: London, UK•Locations: ~150 countriesA Multinational Banking and Financial Services Firm•Employees: 139,900 (2013) •HQ: London, UK•Locations: branches in over 50 countriesGEC Architecture•Employees: <20•HQ: Calgary, Canada•Locations: 1 countryStanford University•Students: 16,000•Location: Stanford, CaliforniaOver 10k1001-10k51-5002-50501-1000Size of Organization (employees) Wainhouse Research•Employees: ~20•HQ: Duxbury, MA•Locations: 1 countryCollaboration Council 2014 Wainhouse Research, LLC 2

The Challenge IT has long understood its mission to provide technologies that become embedded in the business. Historically, “the Business” looked to IT as the technical experts and depended on them to provide cutting edge solutions. Until recently, this mission was achievable as communications technology required a unique skillset to deploy, maintain and support. But an organization’s technology solutions no longer originate solely from IT. Consumerization, BYOD, and software-based communications are creating a patchwork of disparate technologies within the business. At the same time, IT is expected to deliver secure, reliable, and integrated solutions that enhance their team’s productivity and efficiencies. To this end, the Collaboration Council has identified a number of specific and challenges related to this conundrum: CHALLENGE DETAIL IMPACT IT is often a cost center and regularly underfunded. IT teams have long voiced challenges associated with budget constraints. Many aging technologies continue to work, but do not provide the latest features or current user experience – the mantra “if it’s not on fire, I’m not replacing it” often applies to old PBXs, network switches, PCs, and other critical pieces of infrastructure. Many of these foundational elements fall in the direct path of new solutions and services that support the Collaborative experience. Although IT teams may have been requesting funds to replace aging infrastructure, it’s not until the organization realizes it is required to support new, desired services that funding is approved, causing material impact and delays to project schedules. End users are capable of driving their own solutions. While IT is required to focus on a specific, manageable set of tools, today’s end user has broad knowledge covering a range of solutions. This knowledge is driven from both consumer experience, and by employees who are moving between employers at a faster rate than ever before – thus exposing them to new technologies and collaborative solutions. At the same time, the tools themselves are advancing quickly, making it easier for users with minimal technical knowledge to become experts based on use and experience. Technical users are pushing IT teams to deliver solutions that support mobility, real-time text, high quality audio, high definition video, and an advanced virtual collaboration experience. Coupled with a lack of funding, many IT teams are inadequately positioned to meet these needs. As a result, some organizations see technical budgets being distributed inside the business – Marketing suddenly purchases its own web collaboration licenses, as an example. In another common scenario, end users simply download unsanctioned applications – such as HR deploying Skype for video-enabled interviews. These examples make it increasingly difficult for IT to advance the company’s platform and provide a truly integrated Collaborative environment. Collaborative solutions are advancing faster than ever before. The move from hardware to software has allowed Collaborative solutions to add features at an alarming pace. Many IT teams are saddled with a slow-moving capital approval process; as a result, many teams feel they are constantly behind the technology curve. As one Council member noted, “by the time we are ready to execute, the new Shiny Thing comes out. Shiny Things fall into two distinct categories: noise, and legitimate technologies. It is up to us to differentiate between the two.” Many IT teams simply feel inadequately prepared to deliver a cutting-edge, or even current, Collaborative experience, describing their approach as more reactive than proactive. Coupled with advanced users, it can become very difficult to drive the Collaborative experience – as a result, consumerization and individual-contributor- sourced applications may end up driving the Collaboration roadmap. 2014 Wainhouse Research, LLC 3 View slide

The Solutions To be fair, the vast majority of the Council’s discussion centers on best practices and repeatable solutions, in contrast to the aforementioned challenge statements. Solutions are frequently discussed and debated, and there is no shortage of opinion when IT’s role is on the table. The following highlights summarize the Council’s feedback on the topic of IT’s role as a Collaboration enabler: SOLUTION DETAIL . Know your end user IT’s historic “command and control” approach is outdated. Traditional barriers separating IT from business functions are quickly disappearing, making IT’s alignment with organizational business goals imperative for success. To achieve this, IT teams must fully understand - and empathize with - the true needs of all constituents - each line of business, individual employee and end customer alike. A shift is occurring, away from the centralized IT department and towards function-specific IT roles which will operate in tandem with each business area (think: Chief Marketing Technologist) and which are better able to understand and anticipate how changes in technology can best meet the changes within the business. Relinquish control Traditional IT teams often view end users as equal problem children and stakeholders – even the most technically astute user has a tendency to break things. The Council recommends a shift in view, looking at the user as the solution instead of the problem. Several Council members reinforced the importance and benefits of embracing a standard bring your own device (BYOD) and application (BYOA) strategy, shifting support and cost from the IT team to the end user. Still, it is critical to establish a “line in the sand” that supports the business’s requirements as well – this generally applies to the IT teams’ ability to provide secure access to corporate data and maintain regulatory requirements. Establish a foundational platform No matter in what direction your applications evolve, you will always require a secure, stable, and highly available platform. Think of your environment as a pyramid, with services supporting identity, network access, and datacenter infrastructure at the bottom. When built correctly, the application layer can iterate on its own. However, when the foundational platform is neglected, it becomes a costly roadblock to new services. It is critical to extend your platform view past your enterprise’s four walls as many organizations support a growing number of telecommuters and external collaborators, your platform must support internal as well as external participants. “Engaging HR is one of most important steps in understanding the IT team's core mission / solution requirements.” “Trust is the key to relinquishing control – you must build teams you can trust, both within IT and within the larger user population as well.” “One of our largest frustrations is the reliability of our voice UC system – when you are in the office, things work fine. When you are offsite, you have poor voice quality.” 2014 Wainhouse Research, LLC 4 View slide

Create a consistent user experience While many IT teams point to a growing complexity within their communications environment, a common theme voiced by the council was that of the consistent user experience. The benefits of consistency across an enterprise’s Collaboration environment extend far and wide, and center on the ability for an end user to become an expert in the given solution. As the user becomes an expert in the tool set, less effort is put into ‘where do I click’ or ‘how do I conference,’ and more focus is put on the actual interaction or collaboration in question. Those IT teams with experience deploying a consistent Collaboration experience point to a reduction in training costs, fewer support calls, an increase in adoption, and an explosion in collaboration across their enterprise. Look to the clouds For some IT teams, a hosted service provider can solve a number of challenges standing in the way of forward progress. The best cloud providers are adept at supporting an upgrade cycle that many IT teams are challenged with, delivering services on the latest, or near-latest, version. In addition, these providers have established processes intended to support upgrades and feature rollout in a controlled manner, matching their customer’s ability to adopt new features and adapt to changes. The council also points to the cloud as a solution to reduce IT support challenges, deliver high quality Collaboration features, and provide more budget- friendly Opex payment options. SMART Technologies’ Inspired Collaboration Assessment IT’s critical role in delivering a technical environment that supports Collaboration with a capital C has been reinforced by data gathered from SMART’s own Inspired Collaboration Assessment – a survey tool consisting of feedback from over 1,400 participants from around the world. The assessment identifies a new cluster of high-performing enterprises that demonstrate a common set of behaviors and deliver a consistent set of collaborative tools and technologies: 1. Intuitive technologies – providing a solution that participants can walk up and use 2. Interaction – delivery, support and adoption of interactive displays and conferencing software 3. Ease of use – solutions that enable participants to quickly set up, start and manage collaboration sessions 4. Virtual collaboration – tools and technologies that enable remote employees to contribute and collaborate as if they are in the same room 5. Rich collaboration – Presenters have access to reliable technology that supports dynamic presentations and content interaction Enterprises looking to benchmark their current collaboration maturity level can complete SMART’s Inspired Collaboration Assessment online: SMARTtech.com/inspiredcollaboration “If the technology is invisible, you’ve done it right.” “Remaining relevant from an IT perspective is a huge challenge – we’re looking to the cloud to help with agility.” 2014 Wainhouse Research, LLC 5

About SMART, the sponsor of this paper SMART Technologies Inc. is a leading provider of technology solutions that enable inspired collaboration in schools and workplaces around the world by turning group work into a highly interactive, engaging and productive experience. SMART delivers integrated solutions of hardware, software and services designed for superior performance and ease of use, and remains a world leader in interactive displays. About Wainhouse Research Wainhouse Research, www.wainhouse.com, is an independent analyst firm that focuses on critical issues in the Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C). The company conducts multi-client and custom research studies, consults with end users on key implementation issues, publishes white papers and market statistics, and delivers public and private seminars as well as speaker presentations at industry group meetings About the Author Bill Haskins is a Senior Analyst at Wainhouse Research with a strategic focus on unified communications products and services. Bill has over 15 years of experience supporting, delivering, and designing converged Collaboration services in a global communications environment. He has authored multiple white papers and articles detailing the keys to a successful UCC implementation and delivered various UCC presentations, highlighting his experience integrating Collaboration solutions into business process and enterprise applications. He can be reached at bhaskins@wainhouse.com. 2014 Wainhouse Research, LLC 6

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