Collaboration Tools Make Work More Fun

ITEXPO Fun at Work

Collaboration Tools Make Work More Fun

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines  |  November 01, 2010

This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

Work is not a place. Rather, with today’s communications tools, it’s become an integral part of life. But most folks are OK with that, especially if they can use products and services that are fun to communicate and collaborate with co-workers and partners to conceptualize, design and deliver solutions.

That was a theme expressed by various speakers and sources at last month’s ITEXPO (News - Alert) in Los Angeles.

Paul Pugh, executive creative director of frog design and a speaker at the Avaya Technology on Tap event at ITEXPO, talked about how “the laptop was the gateway drug” that got workers hooked on being connected whenever and wherever they are. Through the magic of mobile devices, today many people work even when they’re on “vacation,” said Pugh of frog design, a consulting division of Aricent (News - Alert) that has participated in the design of such products as the HP TouchSmart.

He referred to this collision of our personal and professional worlds as “the reverse Don Draper effect”. The Don Draper character on the popular TV show Mad Men, Pugh explained, is able to cleanly maintain multiple separate lives.  Conversely, technology has erased the line between the rest of our work and home lives.

It also has redefined the work space, he added. With communications tools and connectivity, he noted, multi-disciplinary teams can create a virtual place and space to gather, converse, and share materials. They can also set up portals, like frog design did with frogMob, to invite people to offer input on particular subjects, he said.

“You want to create a culture where the curious and even the problem kids can flourish,” Pugh said.

Christian Von Reventlow, vice president of new products at Avaya, added that collaboration between teams, with users and the world at large is important, as anybody can offer a new perspective on an issue.

“You can’t invent alone,” he said, noting that even his young son has provided him with beneficial input on product design.

Using fun products and user-friendly interfaces to collaborate can make such interaction a pleasure, he added.

That was the goal of Avaya when it set out to build what is now known as the Avaya Flare Experience, he indicated. Von Reventlow demonstrated how contacts on the Flare-based tablet Avaya recently introduced can easily be moved with the touch of the finger to institute a videoconference or share a PDF in that conference, as just two examples. It also allows users to be a conference while communicating with a subgroup simultaneously, he added.

Bill Soto, sales manager for the U.S. and Canada at Xorcom, also touched on bringing the fun to work via communications in a discussion with INTERNET TELEPHONY at last month’s ITEXPO show in Los Angeles.

He noted that people today have more ways of communicating than ever before.

“Even though voice is the No. 1 application, being able to do IM, chat, etc., so people can messages back and forth to get a problem solved is critical.” And bringing video and document sharing into the mix will only improve communications and make interactions more engaging, he added, saying that it no longer requires the resources of a big company to enjoy these tools.

In a keynote presentation at SocialCRM EXPO, which was collocated with ITEXPO, Joe Staples (News - Alert), chief marketing officer at Interactive Intelligence Inc., talked about how the boom in social networking for personal purposes is now spurring more companies to use – or at least consider – how they might use the popularity of social networking to their own advantage.

About 77 percent of 18 to 24 year olds have profiles on social networks, he said. For those in the 25 to 34 age bracket, that percentage is 65 percent. And just more than half of the population between 35 and 44 are into social networking, Staples said. All told, 139 million people have Facebook (News - Alert) profiles – that’s a whopping 44.7 percent of the population, he said.

That probably explains why so many top brands are on Facebook too. Staples said that list includes Xbox (with nearly 3 million Facebook fans), Best Buy, JCPenney, Playfish, Southwest Airlines, Taco Bell, Verizon Wireless (News - Alert) and Walmart.

Offering up more statistics, Staples added that there are 160 million Twitter accounts worldwide. He also noted that there are about 90 million tweets a day, which is a huge jump from the million tweets a day about two years ago, when only 5 percent of U.S. consumers had any knowledge of Twitter.

“It is really here to stay,” Staples said. “So how do we as businesses harness it, use it to our advantage, and not turn into a disadvantage for us.”

Edited by Jaclyn Allard


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