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Enabling a Collaborative Workforce around the Globe
By Daniel M. Horton, CIO, Sallyport Global
Cloud and mobile technologies can create an environment to secure, retrieve, and allow access to critical information regardless of location. To implement this technology, you must first have the proper infrastructure in place to support its success. Although this could present several unique challenges during the improvements, they should be considered small growing pains to get to the finish line of a high-performing and effective workforce.
Organizations must provide the tools to ensure their employees can share the knowledge they possess. Employees, who have access to standardized tools and resources, develop foreseeable results. This ensures all relevant information and resources can be accessed whenever needed which leads to faster and more effective decision making and easier collaboration.
The tools should enable the users to break down all geographic boundaries, which opens your company up to expand its workforce and benefit from talent across the entire organization. This improves knowledge sharing and enables local SMEs to contribute to projects outside of their region from the comfort of their primary office. This will also provide the ability to recruit talent from a greater spectrum since the best person for the job will not always be in your backyard.
We run a global operation providing best-in-class mission support services in some of the most complex, hostile, and austere locations across the globe. It is imperative that we deliver innovative, low-risk, and cost-effective solutions ensuring the success of each mission. Although our employees are spread across the globe, we still function as one unit no matter what region or time zone we’re working in. Access to our environment is over a wide range of internet speeds and offering our users the same experience whether they are sitting in one of our offices, on travel, or in the comfort of their own homes.
Out with the old, in with the new—working on a dated infrastructure is costing money in lost productivity, limited capability, and end-user frustration
To achieve this level of collaboration, there were several actions that were put in place from a technological standpoint.
First, we implemented an infrastructure that had the flexibility, scalability, and reliability that we required. To achieve this, the obvious choice was to use cloud and mobile technologies. Everything we use has a mobile interface. Keeping information available at our employee’s fingertips is how we can be so effective and stay in sync with one another. We have a suite of custom corporate mobile apps that enable our employees to perform their job functions and collaborate anytime, anywhere.
The next step in this process was to provide the company with centralized access to information and communication, that is delivered in an easy-to-use manner. Centralization of our resources has simplified the end-user experience as well as providing better oversight into our data footprint. The proper oversight of our data has also allowed us to standardize on deliverables. To support our need for communications, a unified communication and collaboration solution was implemented, allowing us to realize the real-time interaction necessary to operate in a fast-paced atmosphere.
It was important that we could separate our end-users from being tied to a desk or even a specific device. The device is now truly just a gateway to access applications and data. If the device is lost or stolen, the end-user can transition to another device within minutes and the old device becomes obsolete with no data trail left behind. For employees that have multiple approved devices, their profiles are also synchronized across those devices so they have the same user experience. Setups for new employees can now be done within minutes and do not need the manual intervention that was once required.
Having this kind of environment in place has allowed our IT team to work smarter and focus on adding significant value to the company and our clients. We are no longer spending our time working on the mundane task of hardware upkeep that was once considered a full-time job for many. This has been a welcomed transition for our IT team because it has eliminated those tasks that typically required emergency after hours or holiday work.
With a workforce that is distributed around the globe, identifying the right collaboration solution for your company should be a top priority. The most efficient method is to provide a centralized platform that can be used to discuss projects. Integrate your communication platform to deliver a cohesive experience, enabling staff members to view and edit documents collectively in real-time. When a team is collaborating effortlessly, they are more effective, which stimulates greater creativity and performance. “Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” - Steve Jobs
If I had one piece of advice to provide on this topic, it would be to ensure that your infrastructure is designed on a modern platform that can support forecasted growth and required capabilities. This can sometimes be a challenge transforming an infrastructure that has been in place for years but it must be considered a priority. Out with the old, in with the new—working on a dated infrastructure is costing money in lost productivity, limited capability, and end-user frustration. Ultimately, the goal of workplace collaboration is to increase employee engagement by nurturing open communication among all team members across the organization. When you can achieve this for your employees, they will be able to work at their full potential and the company will realize a greater level of productivity, innovation, and knowledge sharing that will contribute to the success of the corporate mission.