By David Sturges, Chief Commercial Officer at WorkPlaceLive
Small companies need to be able to act like larger companies to compete in a highly competitive marketplace. Increasingly, companies are embracing technologies such as cloud computing, VOIP, Skype and video conferencing to improve their responsiveness, support their consultants working remotely and expand their businesses.
Advances in technology have made this possible and systems such as hosted desktops supported by cloud technology are being adopted by companies to enable their consultants to work smartly and effectively from any location.
Using a hosted desktop, consultants can access all their files and databases on the move. This means they can respond quickly to clients. It also means they can work more productively — for example, updating their notes post meetings without having to return to the office and making use of down time when travelling on a train for instance.
The ability to respond quickly can put businesses ahead of competitors that don’t have such facilities. Using hosted desktops in conjunction with technologies such as video conferencing or Skype also allows a flexible and remote workforce to function from any location, improving workforce productivity and effectiveness, as well as negating the need for big offices, which can save money.
We recently attended an exhibition and were approached by several start-up recruitment firms looking for technology to support completely virtual businesses, with all the consultants working from home and on the move. I think this will be a key trend in the future.
If a company outsources all data and IT systems to a managed service provider they won’t need any servers in the office or have to manage any software licensing or administration issues, saving them time and money. The latest software and security will also be provided and having ‘corporate grade’ IT at an affordable price could aid new business development and growth.
One company that has adopted a hosted desktop service to expand internationally is Oasis HR, a fast growing, HR recruitment agency that has successfully developed its business using a partnership model. In 2011 Oasis’s directors wanted to expand into the USA and Asia by developing a network of exclusive strategic partnerships in these countries. The plan was to identify associates that could be integrated in the business quickly and at the same time ensure that its clients received a seamless and consistent level of service.
The company required all its employees to access the same IT systems, including the CRM database and talent management software, from anywhere in the world to enable real time information sharing and consistent working processes. The company realised the most logical progression would be to move away from a local IT server supported by an external provider and adopt a cloud-based, hosted model instead.
This approach supported the organisation’s international expansion plans and enabled it to offer employees flexible working arrangements. Today, its consultants around the world are all using the same IT systems and working just as effectively when they are out of the office working remotely as if they were sitting at their desktops.
Companies will further benefit in the future from hosted desktops that incorporate packages such as Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) which allow people to make telephone calls using a computer network over the Internet and video conferencing. This can support expansion, especially overseas and can save companies money on phone calls, as well as reducing the need for face to face meetings.
Increasingly, hosted desktops are allowing businesses to connect all the office packages they may use — from databases to accounts and administrative packages enabling employees to operate truly as if they were in the office even if they aren’t.
The home office will soon be functioning in the same way as being in the office and this will help smaller recruitment to expand more quickly as it can save overheads and office costs. Additionally, if companies embrace home working they will be able to access a wider talent pool, including mothers or people with disabilities who are unable to commute into offices.
These days’ people tend to use multiple devices for accessing information. Analyst firm Gartner predicted last year that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide, and by 2015, media tablet shipments will constitute 50% of laptop shipments. This shift in how people access their works means businesses need to consider how they can offer their employees the facilities to switch between devices and bring their own devices to work.
In the future it will become more commonplace and easier for employees to use multiple devices for work and ensure data security. Using a hosted desktop provider means that data is not stored on any devices but, instead securely stored at the datacentre of the provider. Information is kept centrally, which eradicates the security risks if laptops or ipads are stolen or lost.
The future will see improved connectivity and interoperability between software packages and clouds, so that they will all talk to each other and the use of multiple clouds will not be unusual. In the recruitment sector there are around 60 different software vendors and at the moment it’s not possible that all the software that is being used is connected to each other. In the future it will be possible.
The way people are using technology is changing and it will become impossible for businesses to ignore cloud computing in the future. IT departments will also find it increasingly hard to keep pace with the advances in technology. Joined up thinking and joined up systems will make working life much simpler for recruitment companies and those that embrace the cloud will make sure they not only remain competitive but have access to the latest technologies and ways of working.
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