How communication and collaboration technologies are decisive when it comes to success in new workspaces

More flexibility in the workplace and processes for more creativity, innovation, and efficiency: That’s how many companies are reacting to the demands of digitalization and the business transformation this brings with it. To achieve this, future workspaces promise more agility and flexibility for processes and structures. The communication and collaboration technologies used along with the AV and IT infrastructure are key to success. However, many companies are still cautious when it comes to implementing new technologies, uncertain about its impact on the ROI. That’s why macom, a Stuttgart-based service provider for consulting and engineering, supports companies with the design, planning, and implementation of future-workspace projects.

Business Transformation Demands New Flexibility

Digitalization and the ways in which this is transforming business have woken up some companies. Established business models are now being called into question more and more. Larger companies in particular are facing increased pressure for more efficiency, innovative power, and creativity in the face of global competition. These companies are continually having to ask themselves how they plan to develop their business, change it, or perhaps even reinvent themselves, and what they can learn from startups in this respect.

In many cases, rigid structures have to be broken down to foster new creativity for innovation and customer proximity. The focus of office work is increasingly developing from stable management processes and standardized routine activities to knowledge-based tasks with complex and dynamic workflows. This calls for the fast and flexible networking of competences, resources, and technologies. New workspaces that use modern and adaptable collaboration technologies to enable agile methods of collaboration are increasingly becoming critical success factors.

Needs-based Communication and Collaboration Technology as a Success Factor

Modern communication and collaboration technologies play a central role here. These make co-working and the flexible use of knowledge and resources between employees possible across departments, and even across branch locations. These tools include video conferencing systems, collaboration software, archiving and signage systems for employee information, systems for the integration of mobile end devices, and even a suitable AV and IT infrastructure.

“To make the best use of the technology and thus to tap into the potential for creativity and efficiency offered up by the new workspaces, future-workspace projects must be planned carefully, even from the view of technology management. We see many companies still need consulting in this area,” acknowledges Oliver Mack, an executive board member at macom.

Need for Consulting in the Use of Technology

This was recently underscored by the German Social Collaboration Study 2016. The findings revealed that many companies have recognized the significance of digital collaboration. However, many companies are still cautious when it comes to implementing the corresponding technical solutions to achieve it. They are unsure whether they can fulfill the technological prerequisites necessary for deriving sustainable benefits.

Defining Aims Early for Greater User Acceptance to Optimally Increase Efficiency

“The success factors include needs-based design of the communication and collaboration systems, great usability, and thus low learning curves for using the new tools,” explains Oliver Mack. That’s why it is so important to define the aims and the requirements of the new workspaces and the planned technology early on, and to consider these in the conceptual phase of the project. This isn’t just about how the tools are integrated in the physical infrastructure. When the aims are defined together with the users, and later the operators (in most cases the IT department), this lays the groundwork for user acceptance sometime down the road and boosts the productivity that the technology can bring in daily use. This will in turn determine whether or not high yields can be attained from the technology investment.

Mack illustrates this with a simple example: “An interactive whiteboard doesn’t add much benefit if only expert users can work with it or if it isn’t integrated into the IT environment of every user. When employees use the technology to create digital content, but this then can’t be saved and shared seamlessly through Sharepoint, on the network, or in the cloud, users will be reluctant to accept the new tools. This means you aren’t getting the most out of the optimization potential for your company’s processes. Early integration into the IT environment and a strict focus on simple handling in the design stage can prevent these types of adverse effects.”

Media Technology Lab Supports Design and Planing

macom created the macom LAB to support companies in the early phases of future-workspace projects, when the initial concept is being designed and the requirements are being defined. This media technology and collaboration lab is the first of its kind worldwide and it gives companies the chance to design and test technical-collaboration solutions for planned future-workspace installations and integrations in an independent yet realistic environment. “We can show customers what’s possible, from a technical standpoint, for their new workspace, which requirements are involved, and which solutions are best suited for what they are trying to do. This allows us to come up with needs-based solutions for the individual requirements of each company,” explains Simon Badr, manager of the macom LAB.

Simulating New Workspaces Allows for Customized Designs

The macom LAB provides access to various areas for simulating flexibly adaptable work and meeting spaces, as well as collaboration tools. This means the setup and integration plans can be better conceptualized from the media-technology side and proposed implementation can be more effectively planned. Hardware and software shootouts also make it easier to judge which technical solutions might be most suitable for various project requirements. Technical standards can also be defined for future installations.

“We also look at customer projects from three perspectives: from the user’s point of view, where everything centers around usability; from the technology angle, where the focus is on compatibility and integrated use of technical tools without isolated solutions; and from the process side, where we develop a life cycle analysis that focuses on enhanced productivity in in the implementation and operating phases. Only if these three angles are incorporated in the design and planning phases can companies get what they really need – solutions that allow them to exploit the vast potential for optimization that new workspaces can offer, completely and sustainably,” says Badr.

(Author: Martin C. Wagner)

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