Unify CEO Outlines 'New Way to Work' Initiatives

Worker mobility, BYOD and cloud computing are changing how people work and collaborate, and businesses needs to get on board, Dean Douglas says.

Unify executives are using the giant CeBit show this week and the upcoming Enterprise Connect 2014 event to outline initiatives and strategies businesses can pursue to spur collaboration and communication among an increasingly mobile workforce.

Dean Douglas, CEO of Unify—which used to be known as Siemens Enterprise Communications—at his keynote address at CeBit spoke about a work environment the company is calling the "New Way to Work." This is being fueled by such trends as worker mobility, consumerization of IT, cloud computing, social media and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) practices.

A new generation of people is entering the workforce, and they promise to greatly disrupt the corporate environment and how work is done, according to Douglas.

"No longer are 'anywhere workers,' 'virtual teams' and 'consumerization' buzzwords of interest," the CEO said in his keynote, according to the company. "The 'New Way to Work' is here, it’s the reality of global work today, and C-level executives and IT professionals must be ready to address these topics now."

Unified communications (UC) technology vendors and industry watchers have been warning of the change for a few years now, and companies like Unify, Cisco Systems, Microsoft and Avaya are rolling out solutions aimed at making it easier for workers to collaborate wherever they are, and on whatever device they want. Aruba Networks has dubbed the new generation of workers #GenMobile. In a survey of more than 5,000 workers worldwide, Aruba found that these new employees are highly mobile, very attached to their smartphones and tablets, and demand flexible schedules that allow them to work nontraditional hours and work remotely. In addition, #GenMobile workers are molding their working lives around their devices, which allows them to work from anywhere and at any time, and they want their companies to enable this work style.

"What this report suggests is that #GenMobile won't have patience with companies who do not accommodate their mobile lives," Ben Gibson, chief marketing officer for Aruba, said when the survey results were released. "In order to attract and keep the best employees, businesses need to start looking for solutions to ensure levels of empowerment and productivity in this emerging working world. Ultimately, many will have to totally redefine traditional work environments."

Unify is offering a similar message. In talking about the company's plans for Enterprise Connect, which starts March 17 in Orlando, Fla., Steve Shanck, Unify's general manager for North America, said in a statement that the "New Way to Work is here. It's the reality of global work today, and C-level executives and IT professionals must be ready to address these topics now."

During his keynote, Unify's Douglas introduced the company's New Way to Work Index, a research series designed to give organizations the information they need to create strategies around new ways of communicating and collaborating. He said that by 2015, 1.3 billion people working in virtual teams will join the workforce, illustrating the need for new communications initiatives. As part of the new research index, Unify also outlined six habits of successful teams, including the ability to collaborate over multiple locations, to have focused meetings and to ensure a dialogue between meeting members.

Unify also has created a portal where businesses can access content, data and best practices in dealing with new communications and collaboration environments.

In addition, the company announced new enhancements to its OpenScape Enterprise UC platform that is aimed at expanding the collaboration capabilities and building out on Unify's New Way to Work efforts. The latest version of the vendor's OpenScape UC solution includes a new user interface—designed in conjunction with frog—for both Web and desktop clients to offer users a more visual and intuitive experience, officials said. OpenScape UC also now can be used with Android tablets in addition to Apple's iPads and iPhones and smartphones running Google's Android operating system.

Upgrades to OpenScape Voice are focused on security, reliability and interoperability, including support of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) 1.1, quality-of-service monitoring, reporting and tracing, and new capabilities for automating synchronization of user data.

The latest release of OpenScape Enterprise will be released in July.