Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

Transforming Communications in the Workplace: The Impact of UC on Perceived Productivity in a Multi-National Corporation

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

Transforming Communications in the Workplace: The Impact of UC on Perceived Productivity in a Multi-National Corporation

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Communication has long been recognized as a critical success factor in business and advances in technology have enabled multiple communications channels. A note in terminology needs to be made here. Communication refers to the exchange of information between people. Communications is a technical term that refers to the means used to transmit the messages. Therefore, terms such as communications channel, or its synonym, communications medium, are used when referring to the technology employed to facilitate the act of communicating. The rapid increase in the number and type of communications technologies available in the workplace has made it difficult for the business user to navigate the evolving communications landscape. Businesses across the globe recognize a need to bring together all communications and collaboration channels, including telephony, video, chat (instant messaging), email, file and applications sharing, to facilitate streamlined interactions between colleagues, customers, suppliers, and partners (Cross, 2013). Unified Communications (UC) represents innovation in the communications technology space. UC is positioned as an enterprise level solution that integrates heterogeneous communications channels and collaboration technologies to facilitate the interactive use of multiple communication methods and information sharing activities (Elliot, Blood, & Fernandez, 2016). A major strength of these technologies is the incorporation of features that include contextual presence tracking providing information about individual availability and communication method preference, on-demand switching between communications channels, and intelligent notification services (Gartner, 2013). However, UC is not about a checklist of features; it is about creating a holistic and dynamic approach to an organizational communication strategy that spans people, processes, and technology (Bolton, Murray & Fluker, 2017). The primary goal of unified communications is to improve user productivity and enhance the way business is done (Elliot et al., 2016).

The technical benefits of a UC infrastructure have been widely touted but the workplace benefits may be more compelling (Cross, 2013). Studies have found that UC has a positive impact on company financials. UC has been shown to increase revenue opportunities, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction (Jamison & Pleasant, 2008). UC also, notably, changes the ways users do their jobs resulting in improvements in personal and workgroup performance and productivity (Pleasant & Jamison, 2008). According to Weihua (2011), users of UC benefit from reduced delays in decision-making resulting in speedier workflows, convenience of knowledge and information transfer, support to strengthen relationships with peers across countries and time zones, and the provision of real-time accessibility to other people. Strong relationships encourage collaboration and collaboration is a key driver for business performance, innovation, and productivity (Kristensen & Kinjal, 2010). We posit, as shown in Figure 1, that the features of UC enable better communication, thereby facilitating relationship building ultimately contributing to a positive impact on productivity.

In this research, we studied the use of UC in global virtual teams in a multinational corporation, namely Hewlett Packard Company, a company reported to be one of the largest organizations to execute a comprehensive unified communications rollout. Through case study analysis, we examine how users perceive UC impacts productivity. We also assess user preference for various UC communications mediums. Due to the growing market trend for UC and reports espousing its benefits, developing a deeper understanding and refined analysis of the significance of those benefits is needed.

This research has practical implication as it aids organizations in making better decisions in regard to their investments in and usage of communications technologies in a global environment. …

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