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How to build for the workplace of the future in 2016 and beyond

Michael Frendo Executive Vice President of Worldwide Engineering Polycom Inc. | March 17, 2016
At the beginning of the 2015, big changes to the collaboration landscape were predicted, including increased use of collaboration tools in global companies, dramatic changes to workspaces, and a structural change to the way people meet. Over the course of the last 12 months, the industry has shifted.

All these changes create new opportunities. After a transformative 2015, the industry marches forward with key themes for collaboration in 2016 and beyond:

1. Millennials are the future workforce

The question of which generation will have the largest impact on the Workplace of the Future has been answered: the millennials are coming and there is a lot to do to prepare and adapt. By 2020, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce - they represent the future and most influential demographic and will have the greatest impact shaping the workplace. They are the most active and engaged through social networks, using technology more frequently than any other generation, and are natural collaborators who gravitate to video for communication and learning.  In a recent study, 78 percent of millennials indicated access to the technology they preferred to use makes them more productive at work. The Workplace of the Future is one that can successfully mesh together the millennial generation with the existing workforce; Companies which do not offer a stimulating work experience with a rich set of collaboration tools will be in danger of losing top talent.

2. Mobility has new meaning

Collaboration in the age of mobility is more about seamless integration across different devices, applications and locations. In 2016, it is expected that there will be an increased focus on how devices interact with each other to deliver an integrated collaboration experience.

3. WebRTC will be a key to collaboration  

WebRTC - technology which enables browser-to-browser visual collaboration without the need for plug-ins or additional software - is emerging as a viable technical option. Note however, that despite considerable interest in the industry,  it may still be some time before WebRTC sees widespread adoption, due to lack of standardisation and interoperability, among other challenges. To reach the mainstream, WebRTC interoperability with a broader spectrum of enterprise environments will be critical.

4. Workspaces are being designed to support workstyles

While traditional conference rooms are still valuable for presentations and board like meetings, these represent a fraction of the use cases required for a collaborative workforce. They will be increasingly augmented by new collaboration spaces, designed to support new styles of working and new workplace design. Wainhouse Research estimates there to be 30-50 million huddle rooms around the world, the vast majority of which are lacking support for collaboration.  Innovative new solutions that can enable any space - be it an open space, huddle room, or virtual room - to support interaction in flexible and media rich modes will become the norm.

5. The cloud will change the game

The cloud holds unique promise in delivering collaboration services by fundamentally changing how enterprises procure and consume services and driving new usage models. In the past many small businesses viewed collaboration solutions as a luxury beyond their limited IT teams and budget.  Cloud based solutions will continue to open opportunities for small businesses to operate on an equal footing to their larger competitors by simplifying access to collaboration services. Further, enhanced cloud based services such as analytics, diagnostics, translation and natural language processing will help to advance user experience and provide customers with critical usage data and tools for more effective operations.

 

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