Business’s drive for innovation and competitiveness continues unabated  

The role of today’s Infrastructure and Operations professionals (I&O pros) has changed. The traditional role of surveying the technology market, predicting the future, selecting technologies to support the business, and delivering those technologies efficiently and effectively was hard enough. Today’s I&O pros are being asked to improve the innovativeness and competitiveness of the business while creating an infrastructure that allows endusers to bring their own technologies within a secure, reliable, compliant, and manageable environment. Communications and Collaboration Infrastructure (CCI) can be deployed to drive improvements in communication between employees, supporting innovation focused on driving business results.

An increasingly mobile and distributed workforce demands improved collaboration

As more employees work away from a "traditional" office (27% of workers spend at least 2 days a week away from their primary office location according to the Q2 2013 Forrsights Workforce Survey) and use multiple devices (over half of information workers use three or more devices for work according to the Q2 2013 Forrsights Workforce Survey), it complicates the I&O pro's job of connecting them. Traditional telephones and e-mail accounts aren't enough in today’s fast-paced business environment; new collaboration platforms from document repositories and web conferencing services to video conferencing and enterprise social software help to connect employees and partners to drive innovation by enabling the firm to tap the accumulated wisdom of all their assets.

The call for change

As I&O pros seek to serve their user base, they must seek to leverage the latest technology in a new way. Rather than delivering point solutions, they provide a particular capability and serve all employees equally; they must think of platforms that can be optimized for the role and personality of individual users. A video collaboration platform that enables product development teams to strategize over product innovation manufacturability is no more or less important than a collaboration platform that enables a technical writer to collaborate with a multi-lingual team over that product’s documentation to perfect the readability and usefulness of the document — and both must leverage the same information and reach employees seamlessly around the globe. Delivering CCI that acts as a configurable platform to support innovation processes will be a critical success factor for I&O pros over the next decade.

Evolving to an employee-centric planning process, starting with how and why collaboration takes place across your company is the first step on a journey to deliver real collaborative capacity and innovative capability across your company. Looking at the business processes most impacted by communications and collaboration, and identifying CCI-based processes that can optimize them will enable I&O pros to create a service catalog that includes critical collaboration services and can be communicated to employees in terms of what CCI can do for them today and tomorrow to make them successful in besting the competition.

Like all of Forrester’s other Playbooks, the Communications and Collaboration Infrastructure Playbook is a practical guide packed with our research and recommendations in our 4 phase approach:

Discover: Our reports in the discover phase focus on the current state and future of unified communication and collaboration tools in the enterprise. The first report, “Use Context To Drive A Seamless UC&C Service Layer,” shows how consumer technology has changed the expectations of tech-savvy employees and how unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) has to adapt to include a broad range of communication and social tools. The report “Unified Communications And Collaboration Is Poised For Growth As Demand Rises” outlines the market landscape and helps you match user and business needs to collaboration capabilities for a return on investment in UC&C. Finally, the report “Build A Better Business Case For UC” will guide IT professionals through the key needs, drivers, and likely benefits, as well as help predict and quantify the value of UC&C.

Plan: In the planning phase of the playbook, we focus on how to get started. “Enter More Social, Mobile, Video, And Cloud: Is Your Infrastructure Ready To Collaborate?” helps you assess how your current state compares to your desired state. “Avoid Tactical, Narrow Communications And Collaboration Infrastructure Strategies” assists I&O leaders in formulating a strategy that outlines the mission, scope, goals, and objectives of your communications and collaboration infrastructure program. The report “Reduce Risk And Drive Adoption With A CCI Road Map” focuses on how to put together a long-term technology plan.

Act: This phase of the playbook centers on putting the plan into action. In upcoming reports, we focus on the organizational change that can help and the skills you’ll have to develop in your I&O staff and the impact on how you select technology and support services that lay the foundation.

Optimize: A CCI strategy is an ongoing program, not a one-time planning event. Upcoming reports will focus on performance management, benchmarking, and continuous improvement.

The Communication and Collaboration Infrastructure Playbook is living, so be sure to check back regularly. In addition to the core research for each phase, we add additional drill-downs and toolkit material in the form of reports, presentations, and spreadsheets to support you along the way.

For a more hands-on approach, Forrester Consulting offers full-day workshops and consulting projects aligned to each phase of your communication and collaboration infrastructure strategy. Our team of analysts Henry Dewing, Art Schoeller, Christopher Voce, TJ Keitt, Phillip Karcher, and Brownlee Thomas are ready to help you develop your Communication and Collaboration Infrastructure strategy!