Thanks to IT, organizations are more sophisticated and agile than ever in improving processes, developing products, and approaching customers. But for every action there is a reaction. Each of these improvements has required greater specialization, causing the IT unit to focus on cultivating greater expertise in the functions it supports. That could mean greater communication within the business unit, but more often means less communication between business units. In short, silos develop and opportunities are missed because people aren’t aware of what’s going on in other parts of the organization.
A big contributor to this problem is that people in separate silos have a hard time communicating with each other because they use different technologies or different iterations of the same technologies. Fortunately there is a solution: unified communications (UC). UC, according to a recent Gartner analysis, “integrates siloed communication channels, enables workgroup communication, and transforms how people work to achieve organizational goals.”
A Game Changer
By converging voice, video, and data communication services on a shared IP-based infrastructure, UC provides a common platform for many services, including email, instant messaging, VoIP, and video conferencing. The key is the common platform. Although some organizations have already deployed these technologies, they may have done so without a coherent strategy. As a result they wound up using different vendors, standards, and deployment models (for example, on-premise versus as-a-service). This disjointed method creates numerous poorly connected communications silos. They replicate similar functions – like user directories, user profiles, calendaring and scheduling – which increases cost but decreases efficiency, because they don’t work well together.
These silos don’t just isolate business units and duplicate data, though. They isolate people as well, with the biggest impact being felt by IT professionals. Because they are so focused on managing and supporting their business unit’s particular (and proliferating) types of communication, they end up closed off from the company. This separation severely inhibits any chance of the cross-pollination of ideas that is essential for growth and innovation.
Growing a Team
An effective UC environment is designed to ease and foster communications on a macro scale. This not only leads to stronger connections with colleagues, but also improves the quality of work the IT pro is able to do, and amplifies the impact of that work across the company.
Getting these people out of an isolated workflow and into an integrated one can also mean more awareness and appreciation of their work by others. This can lead to better motivation, better ideas, and better results. In this way, UC is as much a strategy about personal connections and knowledge sharing as it is a platform for services and technologies. It’s a route to cleaner communications and shared goals in the workspace.
At its heart the goal of IT is to increase communication and collaboration by making information more easily available. Too frequently the focus for IT is on the 1’s and 0’s of information – the minutia that keeps heads down and silos enclosed. It’s every bit as important to improve direct, person-to-person and cross-unit communication for businesses to thrive.