Government 2.0 has ushered in an age where states, counties and cities strive to communicate and interact with citizens — better and more often. Within government walls, this increased interaction has spawned a powerful transformation. Technology is changing the ways in which people work together.
Many of us can remember a workplace before e-mail. Office correspondence came through hard copy memos. "While You Were Out" message slips announced missed phone calls or visits. Attending a meeting often meant driving to another location. And if something was really important, you received a fax.
Consider all the collaboration tools available today: office productivity software, online portals, instant messaging, unified communications (UC), social networking, webinars and video conferencing. Location used to be a barrier to collaboration, but today's knowledge workers can team up anytime, anywhere.
A study from Nemertes Research shows that 89 percent of respondents consider their organization to be a virtual workplace. Pulling people together to serve citizens calls for UC applications, not just on the desktop but on mobile devices. Organizations that haven't embraced collaborative technologies are missing a key opportunity to boost efficiency.
Conducting the business of government requires sharing information and making informed decisions to serve citizens. UC integrates various forms of real-time communication into a single dashboard with presence capabilities that guide users to the most appropriate resources and means of communication.
For example, if a worker fielding a call from a citizen does not know how to handle a particular situation, presence-aware applications give that worker the ability to see which coworkers are available for immediate consultation. He or she can then get input from the appropriate colleague regardless of whether that person is down the hall or traveling with a smartphone.
55% Percentage of state and local governments that are currently evaluating, deploying or have fully deployed UC via a cloud model
SOURCE: 2011 CDW•G Unified Communications Tracking Poll
Of those organizations that have fully implemented UC and are tracking the return on investment, 76 percent report that UC has met or exceeded expectations, according to the results of the 2011 CDW•G Unified Communications Tracking Poll. Respondents rate increased productivity as the top benefit derived from UC, followed by reduction of operating costs.
Workers gain an information-rich experience, easier communication and better work-life balance that comes from telework or curtailed travel schedules.
State and local governments benefit as well through enhanced productivity, greater continuity of operations and cost avoidance.
Going forward, collaborative capabilities will only improve. For one, IT managers will be able to integrate UC and mobility to further empower workers.
Also, expect to see a greater holistic focus on collaboration. "The sheer number of ways that people can collaborate is growing, and that's where integration of all these different applications comes into play," says Irwin Lazar, vice president and service director with Nemertes Research.
Don't let lack of experience hold back your organization's deployment of collaborative tools, or you'll be holding back workers. Enhanced collaboration ultimately results in improved service to citizens, and that's ultimately what it's all about.