Work Anywhere, Anytime
Mahesh Gupta, Vice-President, Borderless Networks, Cisco India & SAARC
Three of every five employees today believe they don't need to be in the office to be productive and two of every three employees would accept a lower-paying job with more work flexibility. This increasingly distributed, mobile workforce seeks information on the go and employs collaborative technologies to connect seamlessly with each other for knowledge sharing.
Additionally this new generation of employees which is multimedia savvy and socially connected, brings mobile devices into the workplace, expecting video to be part of their interaction with colleagues, customers and partners. According to a Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) report, the number of network-connected devices is likely to increase to more than 15 billion by 2015.
Mobility and changing workplace experiences/expectations are prompting organizations to break down the silos and borders (of location, devices supported on the network and applications) that exist within their organization and between their organization and the outside world. The traditional "office" is witnessing some radical changes and breaking free from the earlier Dilbert-like cubicle environment. The idea of being assigned to a desk and clocking in 9 to 5 every day is fast becoming a thing of the past.
Employees are demanding the freedom to communicate through multiple streams anytime, anywhere, from any device. Gartner predicts by year end 2013, 40 percent of enterprise workers will have abandoned or removed their desk phone in favor of their mobile. This "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) trend is empowering users to communicate more effectively and allowing them use whichever device they're most comfortable with, to access information. Especially useful to executives who spend a lot of time on the field, BYOD helps to connect with clients and colleagues in office, on the road, in the coffee shop and, increasingly at home.
Take an example of a sales manager sitting in front of a customer who wants some changes on a project implementation. The sales manager can quickly use his tablet to connect back to corporate network using 3G-mobile internet and always-on VPN, pool in the technical resources by searching for the domain expertise available, connect to experts on their preferred numbers, setup a single button click conference and have the customer queries addressed immediately instead of spending a few days over it and losing business opportunity.
The above case indicates that employees today are able to securely connect any device to the office network and work from anywhere in the world-and do it as if they are sitting at their desk. Employee, customer, and supplier interaction increasingly occurs in real time across an enterprise that is distributed and conducts business from venues outside of traditional office buildings. Work can now be performed almost any time and in any location.
SmartPhones, PDA's and Tablets that come equipped with social networking capabilities are increasingly becoming important for employees to stay connected to their personal network while at the same time providing organizations the ability to leverage them and enhance employee productivity by offering a secured, context aware and role based connectivity to the corporate network.
New business models
As the demand to work from anywhere with the users' device of choice is increasing, new usage models and changing business practices are demanding IT support for a wider array of devices, operating systems, and applications. With mobility becoming extremely pervasive in organizations, there is greater pressure on IT to meet the demands of a dynamic workforce-both in terms of service delivery and security challenges.
Since applications and data no longer reside strictly within the enterprise walls and networks become wider and more open, organizations need to design new models (architectures) that help to maintain corporate security and deliver user services that heighten business agility. Enterprises are also challenged to deliver new capabilities that meet the expectations of their empowered users, while simultaneously coping with the growing technology complexity, support and compliance issues associated with them.
Businesses expect IT to implement the capabilities needed to continually support new initiatives while ensuring scalability and adherence to "green" mandates. They seek IT architectures that incorporate new networking technologies and allow employees, customers, and partners to connect and communicate anytime, anywhere, on any device in a manner that is seamless, secure, and reliable. These architectures are expected to deliver an intuitive workflow-oriented user experience, speed troubleshooting and increase network predictability.
The increased drive to become truly 'borderless' means that organizations need to do much more than picking the brightest technology, the best solution, or the least costly product. Adaptability becomes a required asset, and the network becomes critical to accelerate decision making and facilitating innovation. In keeping with the fundamental shift taking place in how business is being done, the network is being used to link locations, people, and information in ways that maximize agility and promote new opportunities.
As workplace trends change and become borderless, technology is being applied effectively, advanced continually and implemented efficiently to ensure user satisfaction. Going forward, deploying comprehensive architectures (collaboration, virtualization, cloud) which come with systems capabilities that facilitate video, mobility, and security will enable business innovation, accelerate workplace transformation and promote operational excellence.