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Cloud computing, mobile devices, social media and workforce analytics are changing the world of work. Find out what that means for HR.
The converging technologies are:
"The cloud gives us the ability to scale applications more quickly and to collaborate more quickly," Geisser explains. "Social media enables us to message our story to more people and create a global presence through outside networks and employee networks. Mobile is a game-changer, and what we are now developing is just the beginning. We need to get more information faster to the broker. The cloud and these other tools are also going to enable us to get more workforce analytics information faster. How these trends are interrelated is they all enable time to market."
Cloud: A computing architecture that provides information technology infrastructure over a network in a self-service, elastic and on-demand fashion.
Public cloud: A shared pool of information technology resources, such as networks, servers and storage, delivered on demand via the public Internet or a private Internet-based network to multiple customers.
Private cloud: An implementation of a cloud restricted to use by a single company. Infrastructure-as-a-service: Servers, storage and other IT resources and support staff that replace the traditional data center with a service available to multiple customers. The vendor charges only for resources consumed, similar to the electricity utility model.
Software-as-a-service: Application delivery model where software and associated data are hosted in the public cloud, typically accessed with a web browser via the Internet. The application is multi-tenant, thereby allowing multiple customers on the same "instance" or copy of the software.
Platform-as-a-service: A service and platform, available on a subscription basis, for hosting applications and developing new ones. Some software-as-a-service offerings are evolving into platforms-as-a-service.
‘The cloud is the enablement component. It is hard to do the other three—social, mobile or analytics—right without getting the cloud right.’
Individually, each technology already impacts work, employees and workplace culture. Their convergence makes up the digital megatrend reshaping business processes.
The Great Enabler
As the cloud emerges as a great enabler, mobile platforms are providing ubiquitous access to applications and information in the cloud and replacing personal computers for a number of computing chores. Workers at many organizations are finding ways to use smart phones and tablets to access and interact with all kinds of information, most of it in the cloud.
Employees expect the workplace to offer similar capabilities in mobile and social media as they have access to outside of work.
"We are all about the accessibility of information and software tools on mobile devices," Geisser says. "If you look at how our real estate brokers do business, they have to be out with clients looking at buildings. We have to enable them with tools that allow instant access." Working with a vendor, Colliers’ IT staff ported one application its employees use on computers to the iPhone. The application helps a broker determine a sales strategy based on his style and the prospect’s personality traits. "We see mobile as exceedingly strategic and important," Geisser says. "We are leasing some mobile apps now that let you see building details, just what brokers need in the field."
The cloud’s importance will grow as more enterprises build mobile applications.
21st Century Network
Colliers has been rolling out internal social media to mixed reception, Geisser says. "Our most senior executives are pretty progressive thinkers, but we have a mixed bag in the field. The whole idea is to create a collaborative environment. You have to be open to sharing information." That is an unnatural act for brokers who historically "own" the customer relationship and do not share it. "Now, there is a business incentive," Geisser says. "We need to collaborate to give the customer a consistent experience wherever they do business with us."
All of this will lead to a new era where workforce analytics occur in real time and become predictive and highly strategic.
All of these converging technologies are enablers of people, she adds—enablers that "can provide more effective ways of managing and communicating."
The author is technology contributing editor for HR Magazine and is based in Silicon Valley.
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