Looking at how we have worked in the past, the desktop IT environment has been relatively constant for several years. We have worked with a PC on our desk, a deskphone connected to a PBX and a corporate network. Our desktop software has been almost exclusively Microsoft and Windows based, apart from the creative industries which were always in the Apple camp.
The advantages of this predictable scene were that the desktop software had been written to work together, so we could paste images into documents, link Excel databases and mailmerges and connect CRM packages into the popular PBXs. All of the desktop applications used a single interface was familiar and easy to learn, once you have mastered the Windows way of working. The main responsibility for IT teams was to support the Windows desktop and keep the network secure, and roll out a new version of Microsoft every few years.
Adding a laptop was the first step towards mobility, introducing the possibilities of working from home, remote working and hot-desking. That was relatively easy for IT departments to support, as the connectivity was standardised on IP and Ethernet, and the software is identical to the desktop versions.
However, now that a smartphone or a tablet computer contains similar computing power to a laptop, it’s powerful enough to become a work tool as well as having video, photos and games. The crossover between traditional IT and personal devices is creating a very interesting situation in the work place.
In the new work environment, there is a huge choice. Twitter and Facebook, which were never designed for business use, have become business tools, that are used for social sharing too. Sharing software such as DropBox and Google Drive are popular because they meet our needs and so much of it is free or available for very low prices. There is a vast choice of apps for anything you want to do – to print an invoice, view a calendar, join a discussion, edit a video..
All of these are very easy to use, without needing any IT support, and fashions are changing fast - people move quickly from one good idea to another.
The new environment is also wireless, where anyone can walk in to a building, carrying a smart phone or tablet and if they have a password, they can connect to the network provided, an dgain access to the Internet. If they are using cloud-based office software, this is all they need to start using their mobile office.
The statistics on devices are staggering, and suggest that this situation is here to stay. Of 25 million smart phones in the UK, approximately 50% are Android, 29% Apple and 15% Blackberry. Microsoft, a relative newcomer with less than one per cent of the market now, is predicted to have 7% of the smart phone market and 22% of the tablet market by 2016.
However this leaves IT teams with four operating systems to support – and who knows how many applications?
Unified Communications offers some answers. At Connect Communications, we are helping customers to bring productivity and structure to this exciting new workplace.