By Colin Martin*
Super funds are constantly looking for better ways in which to engage members. Clever communication is the key and getting to the members in the mode they require is not always easy.
This is sometimes carpeted over by the term ‘digital solution’, when really we need to think collaboratively. It is the term ‘collaborative solution’ we should be using or at least seeking. ‘Digital’ is merely a term for a medium – it is not a solution.
When we look at how and where people work today, we are seeing a marked upturn of more mobile members, more home working, more hot desking and more distributed teams, meaning team collaboration is tougher now than ever before.
For many years the best collaborative technology belonged in the office, with email, video conferencing, Webex, IP telephony and shared resources within server farms being available only to those within the enterprise. These tools, however, soon started to lag behind what was happening in the consumer space. The smartphone revolution has flipped this trend on its head and more and more consumer devices (BYOD – Bring Your Own Device) and applications started to seep into the enterprise estate, much to the horror of the operations and network security managers.
This all happened because when members were faced with collaboration challenges and the super enterprise wasn’t able to provide cost-effective solutions, members took the matter into their own hands and turned to Blackberry Messenger (BBM), Apple FaceTime, Skype or WhatsApp to bridge this gap. WebEX was around at this time, Cisco having acquired WebEX in 2007, but this was then an enterprise-only tool and subscription based.
There is a marked shift underway where members want the ability be able to connect from anywhere, share information and collaborate on any device, be that mobile or fixed.
Members also wanted it to be easy to use, be cost effective, not compromise their data security and should easily interface with their existing IT Infrastructure systems.
One of the problems with this collaboration strategy was that video conferencing had always been an island technology, unlike the voice PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), any phone can call any other phone in the world, independent of type, vendor and age. The video world however, was built around many different protocols and standards, each vendor taking a different approach and as such not all were compatible with each other and the cost of multiple gateways for vendor interconnects were in most cases cost prohibited, or not technically feasible at all.
It has only been in recent years that true digital video collaboration has matured with several key vendors now providing Cloud or Hybrid products and services, allowing cost effective ‘any to any’ video on any device, with any vendor and in any location, providing the best possible experience to each and every user. On top of this, virtual meeting rooms were introduced, so at any time, a multi-party video session can be established, without the need for lengthy video administration set-up times.
We are also now witnessing a lot of top-down demand from investors who want to promote better collaboration and innovation and this technology is the enabler for their members to be fully connected at all times to meet spontaneously with other customers, vendors, experts, and external agencies wherever their creativity thrives – preserving investments and often reducing costs while further enhancing their user experience.
Meetings can be set up from wherever you happen to be at the tap of a button using your Virtual meeting room. No wasted time walking to a meeting room in another building, arriving late and then manually setting up the conference.
Sessions can be recorded and automatically emailed to all participants after the meeting. Everyone can share data, and present, no need for follow-ups. Everyone has voice, video and presence status.
This results in accelerated decision-making, better exchange of information and knowledge transfer and a platform on which to build stronger relationships. All of this requires a collaborative strategy for the funds, which are at this time more focused on the digital medium, thus missing the opportunity to bring about a multi-faceted combined solution.
* Colin Martin is a communications IT specialist. He is a former head of voice and audio engineering at Barclays in the UK, where he spent 20 years, and a former network engineer at British Airways. He recently moved to Australia.
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