Enterprising productivity

Just how are trends like cloud computing and social media changing the very definition of what it means to be productive at work?

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Enterprising productivity
By  Keri Allan Published  January 26, 2012

Just how are trends like cloud computing and social media changing the very definition of what it means to be productive at work? Arabian Computer News speaks to three firms that have a stakehold in the direction the industry takes.

Enabling productivity is one of the crucial aspects of a CIOs job. From the software itself to how it’s delivered to the end user all has an impact on how productive an enterprise’s workforce can be.

Indeed the impact an enterprise’s IT can have on its productivity is immense – tech tools can provide a huge boost, and come in many more forms than previously.

“Productivity tools today go beyond the traditional spreadsheets, word processors and presentation software to include what we know today as social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc,” says Bashar Kilani, head of the executive software group at IBM Middle East. “These are all tools that are essential for capturing data and information and turning it to knowledge and boost productivity.”

But accessibility to technical enablers isn’t enough on its own. The tools themselves must be reliable and simple to use in order for an business to benefit from them, as Abdel Wahed Bendaoua, head of enterprise EMEA Emerging Markets, Google Enterprise explains.

“When you spend time correcting a document because you forgot to save the latest version, uploading a document from one computer to another or copying content in an email for a colleague who needs to read information from a smartphone, all this time you are not focusing on tasks that are really productive,” he says. “Good and easy to use IT tools  – from devices to applications and software – enable staff to save time for what is more important for them and for their company.”

The ever-evolving work environment also adds to the challenge of improving enterprise productivity for a CIO. More than ever before there is a focus on mobility and flexible working environments, with IT itself leading this step forward through the appearance of a growing number of devices.

Bandwidth availability and enabling software solutions are now allowing employees to be as productive when working remotely as they would be in the office itself, as they are now able to have the same work tools to hand, wherever they may be.

“By allowing employees to choose their preferred device and to access data from anywhere on any device, enterprises can bring the personal back into computing, support and drive creativity, boost productivity regardless of work location,” notes Aaron White, regional director, Middle East and Africa, Citrix.

“An employee whose job demands that they travel regularly would need to be equipped with software that offers flexibility without compromising on productivity. When staff can work from wherever suits them best - whether the office, home, the café or the airport – they need software that provides connectivity and delivers applications seamlessly, quickly and reliably enabling flexibility inside and outside of the office,” he adds.

Clearly it’s a time of change for the world of IT, and one that might see rival productivity solutions be able to knock Microsoft’s classic ‘Office’ offerings off the number one spot. We’re entering a new era, one focusing around collaboration tools, and Microsoft can no longer say it owns the market.

“We have definitely spotted a trend in the region towards adoption of alternative computing platforms, and many application providers are battling for a share of the Microsoft Office space,” says White. “However Microsoft is amongst the foremost innovators in this field and we make sure that Citrix solutions deliver across the board of applications to devices based on a diverse range of platforms, from Microsoft to Apple, BlackBerry to Android.”

We’re seeing solid software solutions appearing from a number of sources. For example, there are many open source solutions already out there that are capable of processing documents and creating presentations and spreadsheets, and these can read and save data in all the known formats.

In addition, many of the tech giants are showing off their new offerings, all of which provide alternatives to programmes such as Microsoft Outlook or Word. IBM for example has been showcasing IBM Connections, which provides advanced collaboration facilities that enable organisations to drive internal social business, which flattens hierarchy and provides access across regions.

“This allows organisations to rely less on traditional methods of collaboration like documents and emails and replace it with more social business methods similar to the ones provided by well known social media tools, but with the added value of being internal to the organisation and so more secure and providing the ability to analyse the information and activities,” Kilani explains.

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