Almost a quarter of IT professionals in the UK say they are focused on collaboration above all else in their working lives, and this should come as no surprise as pre- to post-pandemic investments focus on unified communications and collaboration to support the massed ranks of hybrid workers that have come to prominence, says the latest TechTarget/Computer Weekly IT priorities survey.
The pivot to remote working caused by Covid not only affects how and where people work, but also the way in which work itself is managed – more specifically, the establishment of hybrid working as the de facto norm.
The shift has not only seen a drastic increase in the amount and use of collaboration and conferencing services, it has also driven an evolution in the roles and responsibilities of employees and managers in how they engage and run the new distributed enterprises. These trends, regarding collaboration, have been clearly indicated in the IT priorities survey.
The survey was fielded from November 2022 to February 2023, and represents the views of 156 technology decision-makers from the UK & Ireland. It covers three key areas: broad technology initiatives that are more important this year than last; what’s changing with organisations’ technology budgets; and technology investment plans for the upcoming year.
Looking at overall tasks, the survey found that functional areas of responsibility have grown. Just over half (51%) said their primary focus was on cyber security/security operations and risk/compliance, while 45% noted cloud, infrastructure and operations. Application/software development and business applications were cited by 38% and 31% respectively.
Collaboration and communications were indicated by 25%. In terms of the broad technology initiatives that have become significantly more important to an organisation’s future over the past two years, unified communications and collaboration was indicated by 27%. Interestingly, this represented a fall compared with 2022.
Assessing organisations’ current postures relating to supporting a digital-ready workplace and hybrid work environment, 84% of all firms said they would invest in so-called future of work (FoW) initiatives. The study found that in 2023, FoW buyers are likely to be researching hybrid workplace technologies, team collaboration software, unified communications, HR software, IT training and certifications, desktop management, and content management and services.
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- HP looks to lead with hybrid work collaboration and productivity portfolio: Tech giant bids to address growing issue in world of hybrid work where many workers are reluctant to return to the office because of sub-optimal technology.
- Building culture within collaboration to make hybrid work pay: As hybrid working evolves, some firms are struggling to support non-office-based workers and management is unclear of its new responsibilities. What is being done to address this evolution?
- Collaboration tools help and hinder workplace accessibility: Cloud-based collaboration tools have improved workplace accessibility for people with disabilities. But IT leaders must examine where collaboration tools still fall short.
Yet of all of the biggest areas impacting IT buying in 2023, unified communications and collaboration was one of only two predicted to see a decline over the year. In addition, 39% of firms said they would improve collaboration and communication across business units/cross-functional teams to improve their firm’s cyber security posture.
Overall, looking at IT professionals’ unified communications and collaboration investment plans, the IT priorities study found that top of the list was team collaboration (including chat, messaging and content sharing). This was followed by video conferencing; phone/voice calling or VoIP; screen sharing; video calling; content/file sharing; messaging; hybrid/virtual event management; PBX; CPaaS and/or voice and video; API functionality; workspace reservation; and contact centre-as-a-service.
Team collaboration (including chat, messaging and content management) was cited by 70% of professionals as the leading capability their organisation wanted from its unified communications/UCaaS platform, followed by video conferencing (64%). CPaaS and/or voice and video API functionality was cited by 25%, and contact centre-as-a-service by 23%.
Going forward, the study indicated five key UC trends going into 2023: hybrid work and the employee experience; streamlining collaboration; UC interoperability; UC security; and augmented reality, virtual reality and the metaverse.