In the old days, you had your office jockeys operating PCs, desk phones and faxes. You also had the road warrior who used a notebook, cellphone and perhaps some sort of connectivity device such as a 3G modem. Then came Voice over IP and everything changed, says ROB LITH of Connection Telecom.
Office jockeys operated PCs, desknphones and faxes. Their jobs started and ended when they entered and left thenpremises. You could get them on their cell after hours, but it wasn’t reallyndone.
Road warriors drove a lot. Theyncarried a heavy notebook, a cellphone that could be used as backupnconnectivity, a dialup modem (later a 3G modem, and later, a built-in wirelessnmodem), and a nest of cables.
The winds of change –nblurring borders
Then, VoIP blurred the lines. Afternovercoming initial quality problems, VoIP became broadly accepted, its uptakenfurther spurred by a proliferation of broadband access technologies and anliberalisation of worldwide telecoms industries.
This paved the way for a brave newnworld of convergence. The Internet Protocol (IP) became the bedrock for otherncommunications applications besides voice (video, instant messaging,nconferencing, white-boarding etc), setting the scene for an efficient convergedncommunications and collaboration scenario that made the road warrior’snexistence suddenly resemble science fiction.
Meanwhile, applications were givennWeb front-ends, communications infrastructure became server-based andnvirtualised, and borders were increasingly fuzzy as distance and corporatenfirewalls became irrelevant. Now, call centre agents could operate fromnanywhere in the world. Medical, warehouse and retail staff could roam thenpremises with handhelds equipped with WiFi, RFID and live remote access.nAt-home or on-the-road workers could share in central company repositories,nconference in colleagues and customers, present solutions and electronicallynsign agreements.
But still, mobility was a nichenrequirement and endowment. If you weren’t important enough (an executive), ornmobile enough (sales reps, journalists or roaming floor staff), there was nonreason for you to have the device, connectivity and role-based access to donyour work from anywhere but the office.
Today – everybody’s doingneverything everywhere, all the time
Then, Apple blossomed with StevenJobs’s return, and everything changed. The iPhone and iPad spurred exponentialnuptake of tablet PCs and smartphones.
Apps like Skype and WhatsApp,nconsumer broadband and social networks led to a ‘consumerisation’ of devicesnand communications apps in the enterprise. Companies integrated their staff’sndevices into enterprise infrastructure, and even adopted their applications,nsuch as Skype and instant messaging.
This has been boon for enterprisesnand employees, but the real seismic shift has been the total dissolution ofnwhatever borders were left since the advent of IP.
Today, the traditional time-basedndistinctions between at-home, at-work and at-play computing and commsnactivities have all but fallen away. If your boss can ‘Lync’ you at home, younshould be able to ‘Whatsapp’ your partner from work. With on-net callsnbetween branches, public switched telephone network can be bridged, and yourntelecommunications cost vastly reduced. With FNB Connect and wireless LANnnetworking at home, there’s no need to pay cellphone rates.
The corporate drivers for large-scalenmobility for everyone in the business are clear:
· Efficiency: better customer service, e.g. instantnpolicy access and signing
· Cost: lower travel costs with point-to-pointnconferencing, savings on office real estate and equipment, flexible scaling ofnworker capacity in uncertain times through use of a virtual workforce andnseamless business partner tie-ins
· Accessibility: locating staff based onnpresence-sensing technology (rather than phoning their cellphone)
· Flexibility: more employees freedom
· Productivity: monitoring remote agents via IP andnWeb-based tools
Need for mobility
In the final analysis, it doesn’tnmatter much what role your employee fulfils or what level he or she operates atnanymore. Chances are they will have a mobile device capable of handling remotenaccess and cost-effective IP communications, and that, at some point, it willnmake sense for them to use it, at home or at work.
It is thanks to technology – amongnothers IP communications and virtualisation – that it is possible. Embrace thennew mobility by investing in a converged communications solution.
* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @gadgetza
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