When POMT was founded over 20 years ago, the AV and workplace technology solutions we designed and installed from one client to the next were pretty consistent. Whilst the same still could be said five years ago, today things are quite the opposite.
Comparing then and now would be the equivalent of comparing the complexity of a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle with a Rubik’s cube. For the jigsaw puzzle, it’s all about fitting the right piece in the right spot, but a Rubik’s cube involves a lot of interdependent elements to solve it.
Of all the client projects we are fortunate enough to be involved in today, it’s unlikely that any two would be like-for-like deployments.
The last five years has seen everything change in our clients’ environment: the technology, the workplace, the office environment and team culture. The resulting complexity is challenging organisations who are trying to extract maximum benefit from their investment in their people, office space and underlying technology platform.
Platform = Anything
Historically, the technology underpinning the traditional corporate’s workplace and communications platforms was generally either Cisco or Microsoft, or a combination of the two. Designing workplace technology solutions to operate in those traditional corporate environments was quite straightforward and predictable.
Today, due to the diverse platforms in play, challenges are presented for organisations who want to implement simple and intuitive collaborative solutions in their meeting rooms, collaborative and breakout spaces, and extending that functionality to all users across the business.
Organisations can now operate from up to ten different platforms including Google, Atlassian, Microsoft, Cisco, Zoho and Dropbox. The integration layer we provide is becoming increasingly complex and the challenge is to provide the functionality that our clients are looking for in their meeting rooms, collaborative spaces and workstations.
Our recently completed leading edge workplace for a global incubation and investment firm required such a high degree of interoperability and agnostic design that no single platform could be adopted internally. In addition to its own workplace, this organisation’s teams are embedded within its own clients’ offices and the solution we imagined and designed also needed to work with whatever platforms those clients have in operation.
Even the traditional Cisco and Microsoft users are now a mix of on-premise, hosted and cloud deployments, such as Microsoft’s Skype for Business and Office 365. The workplace technologies we work with find dealing with cloud-based services a challenge. For example, integrating workspace management and media systems with web-based interfaces can be challenging for organisations that are using some cloud-based services.
The Workplace is Changing
Our clients’ offices have been open plan for a long time now, and even the senior executives and partners in more traditional legal and professional services firms are moving out of their offices. Case in point is Gilbert + Tobin (G+T), who has moved into a new open plan office space in Barangaroo, Sydney.
G+T move to open plan created a working style that is highly interactive and seeks to foster ideas and collaboration. The law firm views this as critical to its culture, which is focused on outstanding client service.
More than just open plan, we are seeing a proliferation of activity-based or flexible working configurations. These offices have a significantly higher concentration of collaborative spaces, multi-purpose areas and quiet rooms which are designed to facilitate multiple work styles including team and individual work.
These environments are underpinned by technology platforms and solutions such as wifi, booking and scheduling systems, unified communications and personal devices which enable mobility and flexibility. Now more than ever these technologies are critical to business performance and seamless operation.
The Traditional Boundaries are Disappearing
In addition to flexible working environments, we are seeing a rise in flexible working practices. With the rise of the Internet, the ubiquity of connectivity and technologies such as unified communications, the workplace defined by the four walls of the office has disappeared.
As a result, the definition of the enterprise user is changing for a lot of our clients. Extending the boundaries of the traditional office-based employee, clients like NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet are catering for more contractors and staff who are either working from home or using regional work hubs. Organisations are also looking to open up and be able to collaborate more easily with external parties – customers, partners, contractors, and colleagues from other organisations.
Users now have the expectation that they can collaborate and communicate with the same functionality whether they are at their own desk, anywhere in the office in their own workplace, travelling, working from home, remotely or from a regional hub.
Rather than a standard operating environment on company-supplied hardware, many of our clients now have BYOD policies. There is a real challenge to make these devices and other commoditised, consumer technologies behave according to enterprise requirements: such as interoperability, authentication, security and manageability.
Where “One Size” Does Still Fit
While every project POMT works on is now very different, there is one aspect that is still in common.
Our clients all want a consistent and intuitive user experience from the desk to collaborative settings, internal and client-facing meeting rooms, and unique spaces. They don’t want their staff to have to learn another new platform, creating another layer of complexity in their working environment.
The challenge for our team is to design and implement solutions that are outwardly simple and easy to use and manage, hiding what is often very complex underneath. As an example, ensuring that G+T teams have access to one-touch and personal videoconferencing in all their client and practice floor meeting rooms that seamlessly integrates with their booking and workspace management systems.
POMT applies its ‘Rubik’s cube’ methodology to solve the challenge of moving from complexity to simplicity. For our clients, one of the outcomes from this methodology and approach is that they amplify the return on investment in their underlying technology platforms – leveraging those platforms across the workplace environment for maximum benefit.