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The Financial Express

Reimagining collaboration for a hybrid future

| Updated: March 04, 2021 21:54:01


Reimagining collaboration for a hybrid future

The pandemic has made businesses realise they have to adopt a hybrid model to recover, sustain and disrupt. Collaboration is the key to a hybrid future. 

Multiple surveys show only around 12 per cent of the global workforce that was earlier operating out of corporate offices will return to these offices after the pandemic. Everyone else will work from home or a remote location. Businesses are confident, this change will not deter but help reinvent and grow their business in the next normal. While the critical 12 per cent need to be assured of safe work conditions, the rest have to be equipped with sufficient tools for a seamless work from home experience.

For IT, this translates to a multitude of things – securing connectivity, seamless collaboration, agile networking, secure endpoint devices, and a whole new culture of working from anywhere, using any device. At the core of it, however, is a new culture of collaboration.

Enterprise businesses understand that collaboration among their workforce will be the key to organisational success, and for smaller businesses, collaboration might be their competitive edge, leading to disruptive and innovative ideas. For all businesses – big or small – the future is hybrid, and consequently, different realms of IT need to be hybrid. While the tangible parts of IT such as connectivity and data centre management are often handled with off-the-shelf solutions in the areas of hybrid cloud, by adopting various SaaS models, or by deploying endpoint security tools, collaboration is a complex challenge that needs to be handled with care.


Importance of collaboration to achieve ‘Business Resilience’

Organisations have realised that the secret sauce for growth and disruption has evolved from being precise to being adaptable. Earlier, efficiency was measured in terms of accuracy or the relevance of the solution to customer needs; today, this has changed to the quantum of adaptability that businesses can achieve in order to meet the customer needs and demands. Within the organisations, the achievement of work goals has transformed into flexibility that the business leaders can provide to their workforce, to work on any device, from any location. In short, both external customer needs and internal outlook to IT has evolved from accuracy to adaptability.

Consequently, the definition of collaboration is evolving. Today, most corporate employees are working on their devices, mostly with home internet. Fundamentally, these internet systems were not primarily built with enterprise-grade data security. However, to ensure seamless productivity, businesses need to ensure that the screen and experience should be the one that the workforce was used to, in the original workplace setup. Overnight, IT has to mitigate these challenges. Extrapolating this challenge in the area of collaboration, businesses are finding that three parameters – user experience, scale and reach, and flexibility – are of supreme importance in the new, improved normal. As the business focus has shifted from survival to resilience, reimagining collaboration is paramount. In a recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), more than 50 per cent of all enterprises are looking at long-term IT investments and deployments to make their business future-proof and resilient.

New-age collaboration complexities

For any organisation that desires to transform its collaboration backbone, its CIO must ensure zero-compromise security. Security breaches are the biggest concerns for any CIO. In the earlier business landscape, the entire workforce was captive in a workplace, and ensuring enterprise-grade security inside the workplace meant that all the data remains within the confines of the workplace.

Today, organisational and customer data flows into the employees’ homes, airport lounges, and coffee shops, pretty much anywhere the employee decides to work and collaborate from. This requires a robust, yet flexible and consistent security backbone that doesn’t impact an employee’s user experience. This challenge of seamless security across networks and locations can be mitigated only by the intervention of a technology expert. Cisco, with decades of success in security, hardware, software and collaboration solutions, offers to businesses, a wide range of solutions to ensure safe and seamless collaboration for a hybrid future.

How businesses can leverage Cisco Webex

Cisco Webex has been one of the world’s most advanced virtual collaboration solutions. From home office devices to endpoints to displays, Cisco Webex covers all the touchpoints of modern-day collaboration. Cisco Webex comes with in-built Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities that provide a flexible, seamless user experience while also offering business leaders and managers, the power to view, modify and forecast collaboration data.

At the recently concluded WebexOne conference, Cisco also announced 50 new innovations and features in the areas of intelligent customer experiences and seamless collaborations to enable smart hybrid work experiences. The new features range from noise cancellation and speech enhancement innovations, virtual background, real-time translations, along with competencies around closed captioning and transcription, enhanced video layouts, real-time action items, a new component called Webex Huddle, that allows ad hoc meetings in a single click, besides AI for messaging and better actionable insights. While the Webex collaboration suite is seeing innovative additions, many of the new features are aimed at helping the world move to a hybrid workplace model, which many believe is the future of collaborative business.

Seamless collaboration, fit-for-future

From a CIO’s standpoint, while Cisco Webex allows uninterrupted collaboration with seamless workflows in the backend, it also offers real-time monitoring and secures data access. Data generated from collaboration is encrypted and can be accessed upon approval. One of the key features is the diverse flexibility to operate from any device, providing a consistent user experience through voice, video, chat and data exchange. Cisco has also secured strategic alliances with companies ranging from Salesforce to Microsoft to Google, to provide the CIOs with the ability to plug in Webex modules into their existing tools. Depending on the business need, the number of users and global access points can be scaled up or scaled down dynamically. Cisco also offers flexible license plans for organisations of all sizes, along with round-the-world, round-the-clock multi-level support, to assist the businesses to ride on reimagined collaboration to fuel their journey into a hybrid, diverse yet connected future of work.


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