Canadian firms too limiting on technology: Survey

Frustrated by your company’s technology? You’re not alone.

According to a survey paid for by Microsoft Corp., 75 per cent of Canadians believe that businesses limit their access to talent by not offering options that allow them to work outside offices.

The poll also found that 87 per cent of Canadians who responded want technology “that will help them get the job done from any location.” About 90 per cent of respondents said they don’t want to move to get a job, while 88 per cent of them agreed that technology should help people avoid the need to relocate for work.

They survey results were announced Wednesday by Microsoft in Toronto as it released the latest version of its unified communications software, now called Lync. Previously called Office Communications Server, Lync’s newest features will allow more enterprises to consider it as they heart of their PBXs. Microsoft used the survey to push the importance of unified communications to employers, arguing it not only allows employees who are on the road or at home to work more efficiently, it also helps them hire staff who demand such technology.

Young hires are looking for the “tech savviness” of potential employers, Dr. Kevin Stolarick, research director the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman school of management, told reporters at a Microsoft press conference.

That includes firing instant messages to the person at the desk beside them rather than pick up the phone.

“They expect to be in a company where they can do the things they’ve always done,” he said.

Such capabilities – include social media and videoconferencing – not only satisfied staffers, he added, it also broadens the organizations connectivity to the world. “Success for a Canadian company means being a success globally,” Stolarick said.

That was echoed by Dick Jensen, director of technology at Goodmans LLP, a Toronto-based commercial law firm who said giving the lawyers 24-hour a day access to clients is a must. Usually that means being able to forward office phone calls and e-mail to a smart phone.

Clients “don’t care what time it is here,” he told the reporters. “They don’t care what time it is at all if they have an issue they want dealt with.”

Not, Jensen added, that the lawyers have to be instantly at beck and call. If a message comes when a staffer is with a son or daughter at a hockey game, “hopefully” the call will be returned at intermission.

Lync integrates instant messaging, presence, audio, video, Web conferencing and voice. Among the early adopters is Burnaby, B.C.-based Creation Technologies, a contract electronics manufacturer for original equipment makers whose products range from industrial lasers to medical ultrasound devices.

Doug Besse, the company’s executive vice-president and chief information officer, told reporters that with manufacturing plans in Canada, the U.S. and China, the company has regular three-hour online team meetings that were burdened by a communications system from multiple vendors. It usually took 15 minutes for the IT department to set up the necessary bridges for the meetings, he said.

“Losing 15 minutes out of three hours is expensive,” Besse added.

By only using Lync for communications, set up time has been eliminated and decisions are being made faster, he said.

While industry analysts have noted Lync’s newest capabilities will help organizations, Forrester Research analyst Henry Dewing argued in a blog Wednesday it “is not yet the panacea to all enterprise collaboration needs.”

“Has Microsoft solved all of the issues faced by customers looking for an integrated, single vendor solution? No, not really,” he wrote. “Microsoft still lacks deep integration to videoconferencing solutions, despite their close relationship with Polycom. IT professionals who want to successfully implement desktop video access via a Lync client to LifeSize, Polycom, or Tandberg/Cisco videoconferencing solutions today need deep expertise on their staff or from their value-added resellers.”

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