Borderless IT Infrastructure for Competitive Advantage

Cisco commissioned a study of present-day challenges that companies face as they strive to address employee and business needs amid increasing mobility capabilities, security risks, and technologies that can deliver applications and information more ubiquitously -- from virtualized data centers and cloud computing services to traditional wired and wireless networks.

The results of this international workplace study reveals that many people now believe that they no longer need to be "in the office" anymore in order to be truly productive.

This and other findings provide new insight into the expectations, demands, and behavior of today's global workforce -- that's influencing the way information is accessed and how business communications are changing.

"The Cisco Connected World Report gives further insight into the future of the workplace and it is clear from the research findings that the desire among employees to be more mobile and flexible in their work lifestyles is extremely strong throughout the world -- as strong as salary, said Marie Hattar, Vice President, Borderless Networks, Cisco.

She added, "It is also evident that organizations need to embrace a borderless IT infrastructure to capture competitive advantage and increase employee satisfaction. The employee desire to be productive anytime, anywhere, using any device provides an opportunity to embrace the agility and flexibility provided through a Borderless Network Architecture."

Key Findings from the Cisco Connected World Report include:

  • The study, which involved surveys of 2,600 workers and IT professionals in 13 countries, revealed that three of every five employees (60 percent) believed it was unnecessary to be in the office to be productive. This was especially the case in Asia and Latin America. More than nine of 10 employees in India (93 percent) said they did not need to be in the office to be productive. This sentiment was extremely prevalent in China (81 percent) and Brazil (76 percent) as well.
  • Two of every three employees surveyed (66 percent) expect IT to allow them to use any device -- personal or company-issued -- to access corporate networks, applications, and information anywhere at any time, and they expect the types of devices to continue diversifying. In the future, employees expect their choice of network-connected endpoints to broaden to non-traditional work devices like televisions and navigation screens in cars.
  • For employees who can access corporate networks, applications, and information outside of the office, about half of the respondents (45 percent) admitted working between two to three extra hours a day, and a quarter were putting in four hours or more. However, extra hours do not translate to always-on, on-demand employees. They simply want the flexibility to manage their work-life balance throughout their waking hours.
  • Employees also feel strongly about having the flexibility to work anywhere that it would dictate their company loyalty (13 percent), choice of jobs (12 percent), and morale (9 percent). For example, two of three employees worldwide (66 percent) said they would take a job with less pay and more flexibility in device usage, access to social media, and mobility than a higher-paying job without such flexibility. This percentage was higher in some countries, such as Spain (78 percent), despite economic woes the past couple years.
  • Almost half of the IT respondents (45 percent) said they are not prepared policy- and technology-wise to support a more borderless, mobile workforce. Not surprisingly, security is the top concern.
  • Although many of the IT respondents felt security (57 percent), budget (34 percent), and staff expertise (17 percent) were the biggest barriers to enabling a more distributed workforce, employees often felt IT and corporate policies were the obstacles. This perception among employees was extremely prevalent in India, where more than half (58 percent) felt IT was the obstacle to a more flexible work style.

Shared Vision for the Future of Hosted Collaboration

With the increased reliance on IT from business leaders, it's important for CIOs to understand the concerns of CEOs and the implications they may have on IT, according to Gartner, Inc.

"Business leaders see very uncertain times ahead in 2011, and they must defend growth despite falling business and consumer confidence," said Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

According to Gartner's assessment, CIOs should target at least one major business process to be revolutionized or obliterated in 2011 or 2012 -- substantively improving how companies collaborate is one example.

BT and Cisco have a shared vision for the future of hosted collaboration and unified communications services, built on their insight across a variety of networked IT and communications services.

The companies' mutual understanding of complex network environments and solution provisioning has helped them deliver superior capability, service, and value with global reach.

BT and Cisco jointly addressed the ongoing transition to hosted collaboration, unified communications and Internet Protocol (IP) telephony services, including the developing demand for IP telephony as a cloud-based service, at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2010.

Collaboration: New Realities, Rules and Opportunities
Stephen Bruce, head of UCC and Mobility portfolios for multinational corporations at BT Global Services and Matt Rowan, manager of partner operations at Cisco, discussed the new realities, rules, and opportunities that stem from a cloud computing-based collaboration and unified communications strategy, including the implications of a utility-priced service.

Bruce said, "As more of our customers contemplate their end-of-life traditional telephony environments and look to embrace the cloud, they are obviously interested in the notion of moving their IP telephony applications into the cloud. The carefully planned transition to cloud-based IP telephony can help customers dramatically reduce upfront investment costs while accelerating the adoption of IP telephony and unified communications on a global scale."

Rowan said, "As businesses analyze their options related to the consumption of collaboration solutions, cloud models offer compelling value. We are seeing enormous demand for cloud based collaboration solutions. Customers are asking for a low risk, minimally disruptive transition, and I believe BT offers a solid answer."

BT, in collaboration with Cisco, announced its hosted unified communications and IP telephony service to business customers in the U.S. in June 2010.

The service allows businesses to bring converged voice, mobile and data services to every desktop in their organizations, using BT and Cisco's cloud computing-based technologies. BT can rapidly deploy services to both large and small sites, offering business customers significant savings as well as operational predictability.

Value-Added Benefits of Video Collaboration

You may recall, we've reported on the compelling cost savings associated with TelePresence service usage. It's proven to be a key motivator for increasing adoption. That said, a new market study has uncovered value-added benefits -- such as building trust, improving group collaboration, and increasing competitive advantage.

Cisco unveiled the findings of a global study of perceptions of video collaboration technologies in the workplace. The research, conducted by Ipsos Mori, polled an international sample of workers from across 12 countries and found that the benefits of TelePresence and video conferencing are extending well beyond the highly touted benefits of cost and travel reduction.

Among the key findings, 90 percent of respondents believe video collaboration saves them at least two hours of valuable work time a week. One-third of respondents who frequently use video collaboration solutions estimate they save close to one full day -- seven hours or more -- per week.

That adds up to more than two months of time a single employee can gain back over the course of a year.

The Ipsos Mori market study highlights include:

  • Although both users and nonusers recognize the value of video collaboration technologies (76 vs. 60 percent, respectively), workers who frequently use the technology overwhelmingly value some of the qualitative benefits more than nonusers; for example, increasing competitive advantage (73 percent of frequent users vs. 42 percent of nonusers), bringing people closer together (71 percent of frequent users vs. 40 percent of nonusers), and improving work-life balance (70 percent of frequent users vs. 37 percent of nonusers).
  • All respondents, including users and nonusers, agree that video collaboration enhances the communication experience when they are working from home (68 percent), helps maintain operations if work is disrupted (67 percent), improves group collaboration (67 percent), reduces confusion (67 percent), and projects a forward-looking view of an organization (64 percent).
  • Globally, the highest percentage of workers who believe they can experience time savings of seven hours or more per week is China (46 percent). 20 percent of Russian workers report they are able to save more than seven hours per week through the use of video collaboration and telepresence.
  • More than half (56 percent) of the respondents in China use video collaboration technology, more than double the respondents of any other country.
  • More than two-thirds (68 percent) of all respondents perceive environmental benefits to using video collaboration technology, either through enhancing environmental responsibility or as a benefit of reduced travel. Across all 12 markets, at least half of the workers see some environmental benefit.
  • One-third of those polled who are not currently using video collaboration solutions say they would be likely to do so if it were available to them. The percentage of workers who have the technology available but do not currently use it is much higher in France (54 percent) than other markets, such as the United States. (21 percent), Sweden (13 percent), Germany (13 percent) and Spain (13 percent).