What do government workers think of collaborative tech?
- By Jerry Nappi
- Feb 14, 2018
In today’s working environment, agencies depend on unified communications to keep employees connected wherever their work takes them. Whether located at a remote client site in Nebraska or a Starbucks down the street, government employees almost never work at a single location, or on a single device.
While many agencies realize the value of UC and have made strides to adopt technology that provides a seamless omnichannel experience for citizens and government customer service representatives alike, the majority of government employees still report that the quality and performance of UC technology is lacking.
A recent poll conducted by the Government Business Council -- and underwritten by Avaya and MicroTech -- explored the perceptions of collaborative technology within the government workforce. More than 350 government leaders weighed in. Here’s what they said:
Seeking seamless connectivity
Only 41 percent of respondents indicated they could perform work seamlessly across multiple devices that remember past interactions and preferences. One-third stated that they could work on multiple devices, but past interactions were seldom preserved. The remaining 26 percent were limited to using one device.
Not surprisingly, security is one of the biggest obstacles to implementing seamless and secure UC within government today. UC solutions must meet security standards that differ across agencies depending on mission. Mobile device management solutions can remotely manage devices such as tablets and smartphones that can easily be lost or compromised.
Pursuing better performance
Although government employees have seen UC grow in their offices, many remain dissatisfied with its performance. Just 39 percent of respondents said they are satisfied with their current tools, while 28 percent said they are not. The remaining respondents remained neutral, but even that is telling as they did not feel their agency’s UC offering was particularly strong.
Agencies must ensure they have UC tools that seamlessly connect employees wherever and whenever they work. If employees are disappointed in the performance of their agency’s current UC tools, supporting factors such as bandwidth and adequate infrastructure must be examined. If the infrastructure is not in place to handle the data stream, it can be very expensive to bring it up to speed.
Some agencies rely upon a single device to serve as an employee's telephone and video display. That workhorse device becomes a single point of failure when it is tasked to do something it is not intended for. Agencies should look at tools that are designed for communication -- and specifically to interoperate -- ensuring that employees can remain productive.
Now that video capabilities are available on laptops, tablets and smartphones, UC can increase workforce collaboration by enabling online face-to-face communications, which reduces travel costs and enhances productivity.
Visualization tools have also gained favor among government decision-makers for their ability to convert raw data into easily digestible images. As end users report more successes in mobile and data-sharing capabilities, an increasing number of agencies will use data visualization as an effective tool to present important information to those who need the intelligence.
In the poll, 41 percent of respondents said data visualization made a positive impact on their work performance, while only two percent said it had a negative impact. Another 28 percent said their agency does not provide this capability, but they would like to use it. Though data visualization still appears to be a work-in-progress, agencies that have given it proper attention are now increasingly advocating for its use in multiple capacities.
Equipping the government workforce for collaboration
As government IT leaders work to drive greater transformation through unified communications, they should keep these five keys to IT modernization in mind:
Consolidation -- Automate routine tasks inside the agency network to reduce costs and save resources.
Simplification -- Create a unified hub for communications systems that syncs up existing technology with technology innovations.
Open standards -- Architect a platform that is open and can operate with a variety of services.
Infrastructure optimization -- Assess the IT infrastructure and application platform across capabilities and continuity.
Reliability and security -- Ensure that network activity is safe, secure and at peak performance.
UC can give agencies access to powerful tools and resources that can better serve the nation’s citizens and increase productivity for employees who provide the customer service. When well designed, UC offers a flexible and convenient way to access government from any location, at any time and on any device, while enhancing internal and external collaboration. This allows agencies to deliver on their overall mission in a secure and fiscally responsible way.
Jerry Nappi is senior vice president, Business Development, at MicroTech.