The changing face of business communications

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Call them ‘Gen Y’ or Millennials, the new generation of workers think differently about communications, and businesses need to respond accordingly. In fact, business owners need to ask themselves whether their business operates in a world where communication is instant, and if the answer is no, they need to seriously look at how they can make it instant.

As much as social media makes people more social on the surface, human beings are becoming less social. The younger generation, as both employees and customers, is changing the way businesses communicate internally and to their target audiences.

Mobility and flexibility go hand-in-hand

The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 found that 64 percent of millennials polled are able to work from locations other than their employer’s primary site, compared to 43 percent in 2016. It is a strong indication of how rapidly technology is facilitating mobile working and how employers are becoming increasingly comfortable with flexible, work-from-anywhere arrangements.

Millennials consider their cellphones the centre of their world, which means that tools and applications, both from a personal and professional perspective, need to sit on a central device. If they don’t, employees will figure out a way around a company’s systems to meet their communication and productivity needs.

Businesses need to accept the millennial employee’s philosophy of being mobile. Such a mindset change is difficult and even if a business is geared towards mobility, it is potentially not trusting its workforce to work remotely. The survey found that levels of trust increase as flexible working becomes more embedded in an organisation.

Bring-your-own-applications is happening and as such, employees, by the very nature of what they are using, will have scattered communications. Scattered communications, ineffective meetings and fragmented workflows are causing productivity to drop as staff switch between multiple applications, tasks and devices.

It is becoming increasingly important to bring these different applications back into a central place. Being able to have every single application that a business would ordinarily have outside its corporate network, now being pushed into one central application through unified communications (UC) is crucial for effective collaboration. In addition, being able to offer these applications within the corporate network will enable a company to attract and retain millennial talent.

Text rather than talk

Millennials favour texting to phone calls, both as an employee and as a customer. With UC, presence status enables staff to know exactly what someone’s current online status is and having instant messaging (IM) means staff don’t have to escalate to a voice call as quickly as they would have in the past, which is ideal for Generation Y employees.

It is not only internally that companies have to review their communication and collaboration tools. Businesses are having much less face-to-face communication with customers as most communication is now being conducted online.

Business owners can make a small change, such as adding an instant chat functionality to their website, to put customers, especially millennial customers in touch with a consultant without them having to make a phone call.

A value proposition

Businesses are often hesitant to embrace new technology due to the potential disruption it can cause through the need for training and buy-in from staff. To overcome this, enterprises are encouraged to isolate a section of their business and trial a proof of concept to experience the value and possibilities unified communications can bring to that specific department or business unit. Once the value is derived the obstacles in deploying new technology often fade into insignificance in comparison to the value attainable from the new technology.

The reality is that communication is changing and the momentum of change is only going to increase. Business owners need to recognise these changes as an opportunity to reinvent their business with a focus on their employees as well as their customers.

Companies today can’t operate in a world that isn’t instant. If they are not instant they will be slow to respond to customers and slow to work effectively internally.

The goal of any business is for customers to be able to access it and through unified communications, customers, no matter which generation they’re from, can access a business in the way they want to.

Kyle Woolf, CEO of Saicom Voice Services