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Hyperconnected and humanised. Welcome to the new workplace

August 4, 2021

Mysore Madhusudhan   

Executive Vice President - Collaboration and Connected Solutions, Tata Communications

Everything is connected. Digital is a given. This is the first of a blog series which will explore how organisations are undertaking evolution of their culture, processes, and technology ecosystems. In this piece, Mysore Madhusudhan, Executive Vice President for Collaboration and Connected Solutions, Tata Communications, explores the future of work.

‘Hyperconnectivity’ was a term coined by Canadian social scientists Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman referring to the use of multiple means of communication – email, instant messaging, telephone, face-to-face contact, and platform services. The idea being that all devices that could conceivably benefit from being connected to a network, are in fact, connected. This encompasses person-to-person, person-to-machine, and machine-to-machine communication.

The hyperconnected world is continually growing. For example, as we move to 5G, it will be able to support more than a million devices per sq. km (0.4 sq. miles), a big jump over the 60,000-odd devices that 4G technology can handle. With this comes the advent of the hyperconnected organisation, and the pandemic has only accelerated this phenomena with 75% of Fortune 500 CEOs agreeing that their corporations must accelerate technological transformation.

We have seen this for ourselves – a shift to digital first and ‘work from home’ and hybrid culture that’s here to stay.

Personally, I used to travel three weeks in every four and now I haven’t travelled for over 14 months. So if we take a step back, has collaboration and productivity for us stopped? In fact, it has increased. The virtualised workplace has become more and more prevalent, which poses the question: how do you build the foundations for a successful workplace in a hyperconnected organisation?

  1. Start by building an employee-centric workplace that boosts well-being

A study by Oxford Economics on the hyperconnected workplace, found that managers lacked the skills and technology to support employees in the new ways of work.

Since last year, the barrage of constant communications – IM, text, video, emails, calls – are overloading employees and all these multiple communication platforms have led to disengaged and stressed employees, whereas, they just needed a humanised workplace.

“A humanised workplace is one where a mindful approach is taken to digital connection and where required, employees are given a digital detox.”

To support our employees manage the stress that the pandemic brought, one of our proactive initiatives is the ‘TCare programme’ which offers a host of wellbeing initiatives for employees across the globe with the aim to enable their efforts towards achieving holistic wellbeing, inclusive of physical, mental, and emotional health. This is something that needs to be built into the digital workplace to combat what has been called technostress.

  1. Deliver an experiential value chain

The humanised approach to the workplace requires the employee experience to be front of mind when building a secure connected digital workplace. Organisations not only need to consider what data and insights they have, but also what else is needed. This involves exploring how they build an experience with all the right ingredients, be it collaboration, video, SMS, email, or connectivity. Organisations need to assess how they can use ML/AI to build a futuristic approach so they can continue to learn and refine their digital workplace.

“It’s a given that everything has become digital, plus is traceable, monitorable, and scalable, but without being tested, no one will engage in the solution.”

Hence, it’s imperative to create a complete ecosystem – an experiential value chain, if you like – to deliver a differentiated experience across employees, partners, and customers.

For example, a core part of the digital workplace is building trust – everyone in the value chain needs to be able to connect, regardless of device, in a seamless secure way, anytime, anywhere. This is something that Tata Communications has been pioneering with Net Foundry – it’s our zero-trust solution.

  1. Only deliver meaningful use cases

The world is changing from technology to experience-led. You have contact centres, SMS cloud, voice, data, video, network, and security, but these alone are meaningless. It’s how you apply them to use cases that matter to your business. The bottom line is, don’t be tempted to adopt a solution just because other businesses have implemented it. It needs to be based on a real need and to suit your requirements.

When looking at solutions you should consider:

  1. Seamless digital experiences which can recreate being ‘in-person’.
  2. Those that can deal with volume and be an enabler to business.
  3. Which bring anything offline to online.
  4. It all needs to be self-service – convenient, effective, easy. Think 3G, 4G, 5G, 6G – no one cares about the technology it’s all about the experience.
  5. Finally, allow employees to safely connect across the value chain. Security with every interaction is paramount. Aligning with local country laws is now simply a hygiene factor.

“What I have talked about touches every workforce in every industry. From aviation to mining to financial services. It’s about creating a humanised workplace that delivers an experience that goes across the whole ecosystem and is used for meaningful business use cases.”

For example, a retailer wanted to re-create the experience of in-store shopping. For this, he introduced a solution that would provide a digital experience that retains the best features of an “in-store” buying experience.

From the initial browsing, to inviting friends and family, speaking to the salesperson, and maybe even the manager if a commercial negotiation is needed for a high value item such as a laptop. This can all be achieved by using collaboration, video, AI and network. It’s a compelling experience of linking in anyone, securely, at any time. And it’s a journey that can be applied to a vast array of workplace scenarios. The end result is all about creating a rich experience for everyone involved.

As an enabler to the hyperconnected world, at Tata Communications we see a continuum of more data, more devices, and interactions. For us, this means we need to meet the challenge of connecting our customers’ complete supply chain via a digital ecosystem. It’s happening right now – we’re making this a reality via our Secure Connected Digital Workplace. Not only that, but we are platforming everything we do, with the idea of enabling all the above through a single pane of glass for all your technology partners. You could almost think of it like a marketplace – a hyperconnected, humanised world with digitisation at the core.

For more information on this, read our eBook Accelerate Your Workplace Evolution.