One of the most transformative things about the Internet is the way it enables rapid asynchronous communication. Today you send an email, your colleague reads it and within a minutes or hours you are reading their response.  The very nature of the Internet breaks down the barriers of time and location.

Of course, we’ve been doing this traditional correspondence for some time, but today, with instant messaging, it happens so quickly that it has become conversational in nature.  Now consider evolving tools like Unified Communications (UC) that enable chat, video, file share and communication over IP from a single interface. UC tools are revolutionizing the way people communicate and interact in a highly virtual environment. They’re allowing people to work together in ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

Take a moment to ask yourself the last time you worked on a team that wasn’t somewhat virtual or think about the number of people you work with who you’ve never met face-to-face.  The way we work is evolving and the tools and technology that enable us to be effective are too.

Over the last ten or fifteen years, we’ve learned a lot about the virtual work experience. We’ve been connecting with co-workers in remote offices and with telecommuters who work from home. Using these same tools, we now connect more frequently with customers and business partners as well. We’ve gotten pretty good at it, too, and now we’re ready to extend the experience so we can work from pretty much anywhere, anytime. Today’s worker is mobile, and needs to have common, seamless communication tools no matter their location, or what device they happen to have in their hand. Take a look at this Infographic and you can see where things are going:

 

 

There are 75 million information workers in the US, and almost 30% are already working “everywhere.”  Most are laptop users, but almost as many are hooked on their smart phones.  In 2011, global shipments of smartphones and tablets exceeded laptops worldwide (Fortune Magazine- 2/7/2011).  To take best advantage of these trends, the smartphone and tablet need to be included as an equal player in the enterprise communications space.

And how can we talk about enabling technologies without mentioning the reliability and speed of wireless networks?  Wireless connectivity over WiFi, 3G, or 4G/LTE is now available in most office buildings and public venues to extend the reach of whatever device is being carried.  With LTE speeds exceeding many of the conventional broadband capacities, more features, capabilities and apps are more effectively enabling mobile devices than ever before.

IT departments have taken notice. They want to support mobile apps and mobile devices to enable the everywhere worker. They are extending tools and technology like, unified communications, web collaboration and IP video conferencing to mobile devices and realizing the benefits of a connected, collaborative organization.  In fact, when IT execs are asked about their Top 10 telecom priorities, initiatives that support employee mobility and collaboration account for more than half of the list.

Is your firm on the leading edge of enabling the everywhere worker?  What’s been your biggest challenge? Share your experience!