Digital workplaces are currently changing our working world. They bring together all the communication channels on workers‘ desktops and expand them with flexible collaboration and integration options. Mobile digital natives thus have continuous access to all relevant company information – from anywhere and at any time, and can be just as productive as in the office. At least that’s the theory. In practice, the setup of a digital workplace can often prove to be a demanding integration project that poses considerable challenges for companies. In this Part 1 of the article today, we will explain the first steps for setting up digital workplaces.
The digital workplace – an innovative, completely digitalized workplace at which each worker can find precisely the tools and communication channels they need on a daily basis – is currently right at the top of each company’s wish list. However, in practice, many IT departments are initially overwhelmed with such a migration project, which is often perceived as highly complex. Yet implementation is not even that difficult. If you use a powerful, modern UCC platform and bring the right partners on board, you are already on the right track for successful project inception.
Step 1: Bundling the
Modern workplaces are characterized by a colorful mix of synchronous and asynchronous communication channels and end devices. Depending on the situation and requirements, workers can communicate via telephone and voice mail, video meetings and audio conferences, email and chat or just by traditional fax. This media diversity is inherently difficult to keep track of. This is aggravated by the fact that each of these channels is received on a variety of end devices – thus emails usually arrive in parallel on desktop PC and smartphone, while calls are often signaled simultaneously on the DECT mobile headset, the iPhone and the desktop phone. The consequences are often unclear communication processes. If chat histories, address books, caller lists and voice mails are distributed over three or four end devices, a search for the correct telephone number can take considerably longer. In addition, the reachability of the worker also suffers and the administrative effort with each channel and each end device increases.
It’s therefore no wonder that the bundling of communications channels is at the heart of most digital workplace initiatives. Technologically, this requirement can best be managed today by using a modern Unified Communications solution. The systems, which can be hosted either in the cloud or on an on-premises basis replace the traditional telephone system in companies with a completely IP-based platform. Standardizing the infrastructure creates the conditions for merging telephony with all other communication channels in one single UCC client. This can be installed on the desktop PC, notebook, and smartphone of the user, depending on workplace and requirements. This puts a stop to the uncontrolled growth of end devices in many companies. It makes it easier for the workers to keep their customer contacts in view at all times and to process them with consistent quality. Migration to an IP-based solution also offers a series of further advantages – for example with a view to simple administration, a wider choice of end devices and the open interfaces of the platform.
Step 2: Setting the course for
If the communication channels at the digital workplace are bundled, the next step should be to set the course for efficient collaboration of the team. Which collaboration tools offer the best benefits in each individual case depends mainly on the industry sector and the field of activity of the worker – for a mobile sales representative, completely different functions will be important than for their colleague in Support. However, some features play a key role across all areas:
- The foundation of successful digital workplace models is usually a company-wide Presence Management that keeps employees up to date on the status and availability of their colleagues. Ideally, the status messages should go beyond a simple “Present/Absent“ and also inform colleagues about the whereabouts and the expected duration of absence, in order to be able to provide information to callers.
- The key to efficient cooperation in distributed teams is sharing: features such as screen sharing, file sharing and document sharing enable workers to drive forward ambitious projects together and still continuously retain an overview of schedules, file statuses and procedures.
- With rapidly advancing digitalization, many approaches are open to companies to seamlessly integrate their communication tools into existing ERP or CRM applications – and thus to enable even more efficient cooperation. Many UCC platforms thus have flexible interfaces for connecting to existing customer databases and billing systems today. In this way, for example, employees can add conversations automatically to customer files and to bill them to the precise minute at the end of the month.
Ideally, these functionalities should also be seamlessly integrated into the user interface of the UCC client so that they can be accessed without media disruption.
Read Part 2 of the text here.