IT modernization is when a company moves away from the legacy systems they have used for decades and accepts the innovative IT solutions of the future. In the era of remote work, IT teams are tasked with modernizing existing systems to align with Unified Communications (UC) systems of the future.
The pandemic brought more urgency to the need for modernization, as it shifted how we think about what technologies are needed to support the way employees engage with their organizations.
One half of the equation is existing UC systems — employee hardware, audioconferencing technology, video capabilities, and collaboration software — that have slowly improved over the last two years as IT teams came to understand how to support employees and encourage collaboration. The other half is how enterprises prepare meeting spaces for the change in workflow that the post-pandemic landscape provides.
The way that employees collaborate has shifted, and the systems they need to ensure effective communications should conform to the new work environment. As enterprises move into the next “phase” of pandemic life, businesses will need to look at their IT and UC systems to determine what they need to modernize for a more successful and sustainable hybrid future.
Let’s explore considerations for enterprises looking to modernize aging systems, the challenges faced when trying to achieve this. and solutions to present a secure and modernized workplace.
Steps for IT Modernizing Aging UC Systems
Organizations seek technologies to solve for communication and collaboration challenges, but the first step should be to consider how the technology will fit within the workspace.
Consider what an office space today is used for and what technologies are needed to create a well-used space. For example, if you are setting up a meeting space for hundreds of employees to gather in-person, consider setting up screens around the room for visibility regardless of seating location. If you are setting up a meeting space for hybrid meetings, consider implementing technologies and designing room layouts that encourage equitable interaction among colleagues.
The methods to achieve equitable and reliable means of collaboration vary across industries depending on the required levels of in-person vs. remote work. It’s critical for IT teams to evaluate the needs of your organization and industry to determine the best path forward for modernization. A boardroom at a hospital may benefit from a more traditional roundtable in a conference room, whereas a higher education facility would likely prefer a U-shape table with a large screen at the front of the room.
Long before you even think of things like furniture, consider how you intend to meet, whom will be in person vs. remote, the content, the number of participants, and even lighting. The first step to modernization is determining “how” your organization works, and then you can dive into the technologies needed to achieve a successful workplace.
Addressing the Challenges of Modernization – Evaluating Space
Every enterprise requires its own version of flexible office space, but the challenges remain similar. The three main challenges when it comes to modernizing systems to create valuable spaces are the element of time, the use of budgets and determining the types of spaces needed.
- Time: Evaluating aging technologies and implementing new ones takes time. This is often time that organizations do not have as they must work quickly to create spaces that work well for employees with differing needs. When implementing new technologies, set realistic expectations from the start. Ensure teams are aware of the time needed to create usable spaces.
- Budgets: While overall budgets are increasing, IT spend is decreasing. While it can be tempting to compromise on technology to ensure the correct number of spaces, modernized technology is the key to effective meeting spaces and engaged employees. Without audio and video, a room is just a room that lacks collaboration tools. This can impact employee retention, recruitment, culture and engagement.
- Evaluating Space: The spaces that once enabled effective collaboration no longer hold the same value. The days of a two-person huddle room are over, as employees have figured out how to meet among themselves remotely. This means that it is more important than ever for organizations to consider what spaces they truly need to succeed (e.g., town halls, exclusively for remote meetings, executive roundtables, sales training seminars, etc.).
The Future of Functional Office Space
The future office space is one that can easily be reconfigured for various needs. With modernized systems, this is a room that can adapt at the push of a button — from one meeting to the next.
Enterprises must take the time to evaluate what technologies are standing in the way of future success and what technologies are needed to move the organization and its employees forward. To help reach these conclusions, ask these questions within the organization:
- What rooms need to get built?
- What is the most effective way for your team to collaborate?
- How many onsite team members do you have? How many remote?
- What is the content to be discussed in the meeting?
These are the questions that should be asked well ahead of any space planning or system design. How your enterprise works needs to be the lead consideration in all aspects of the spaces you are designing — room shape, acoustics, adjacency to other spaces, seating, displays, microphone and loudspeakers.
With these considerations in mind, the process of modernization comes down to the simple selection of secure technologies that meet the needs of the organization.
Another version of this article originally appeared on our sister-site Commercial Integrator on April 20, 2023. It has since been updated for My TechDecisions’ audience.
Troy Jensen is senior manager of global accounts at Shure.
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