BT Ireland’s Ailbhe McDarby discusses the ways that workplace communications are changing.
The digital workplace might sound like a fad, but it has already become reality without us even having planned for it in many cases.
Earlier this year, SiliconRepublic.com looked at the rise of the ‘digital HQ’ – meaning the Slack channels, email threads, Microsoft Teams chats, Zoom calls and myriad other non-physical places we do work nowadays.
Thanks to the rise of hybrid working – a mix of remote work and office-based working – people have to connect with their colleagues in these online spaces as well as in person.
This has created a whole new dimension for workplace communications, something that BT’s Ailbhe McDarby knows all about.
McDarby is the senior proposition manager for digital workplace and contact in the telecoms company’s Irish business.
Having been in her role for nearly three years, she has seen comms strategies of BT Ireland clients develop through the pandemic – and, in many cases, into the cloud.
Prior to her time with the company, she worked with Dublin Bus, Vodafone and Microsoft. Now, she is in charge of unified communications at BT Ireland.
“When I think of unified communications, or UC, I think it’s a traditional term used to describe the integration of an enterprise’s communication systems,” she explained.
A UC system might include web conferencing, voice calling and instant messaging all in one platform.
“Traditionally in the past they would have been supplied by multiple suppliers and they probably would have been based on premises,” McDarby said. Now, however, these systems are moving into the cloud.
McDarby addressed the changes we have all seen since the pandemic – not least in the way we communicate at work. She said that customers had mostly accelerated their systems to the cloud and that they now “realise the benefit of the cloud.”
But it’s not just UC systems that are operating on the cloud now, she added. It’s “all the systems”, such as CRM, financial and so on. “So, really, it’s more the digital workplace now as opposed to UC.”
While there are plenty of benefits that UC or a digital HQ can offer hybrid workers, McDarby has observed some technical advantages too.
For instance, she said, CTOs are able to better consolidate their infrastructure for scaling purposes, meaning they can scale up or down as needed depending on what their insights tell them.
UC also offers “better analytics and better data” to CTOs, which has a knock-on advantage when it comes to seeking investment.
However, McDarby warned that it is essential to have user-adoption programmes for workers to embrace new systems, estimating that companies that have “procured all these great systems are probably only using about 20pc of the capability of the system”.
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