How much time do you spend on e-mail, information searches and other collaborations each week?
According to a new report from McKinsey on the social economy, the average knowledge worker spends 28 hours a week on those tasks. That is an astounding number, and if we could reduce it by only a few percentage points, it would mean a massive rise in productivity for any enterprise, from the smallest to the largest.
As it turns out, these gains are possible today. McKinsey estimates up-to-date existing collaboration and communication tools could cut this time by as much as 20 percent.
But it’s not happening. Why is that?
The IT industry has spent the last 30 years developing highly structured information repositories, designed for process workers in areas like invoicing, shipping, and HR forms processing. Meanwhile, the knowledge workers in the middle of the organization – who rarely follow repeatable processes – have been essentially left with e-mail as their sole IT support system.
Yet to be able to communicate, coordinate and collaborate effectively between members in workgroups, as well as within and across the borders of companies, is now a fundamental piece of core enterprise processes. Megatrends such as outsourcing and globalization are creating ever more specialized enterprises that are ever more dependent on these same underserved knowledge workers.
Researchers claim that over 80 percent of corporate information today is locked away in the minds of employees. Knowledge workers produce and consume a great deal of unstructured content such as newsletters, research reports, e-mails, and PowerPoint presentations. This information gets scattered between hard drives on their computers, shared network drives, e-mail inboxes, and on miscellaneous Web servers, and the only way to unlock it is through communication, coordination and collaboration.
For communication service providers, this is a greenfield opportunity of almost epic proportions: to provide enterprises of all sizes, around the globe, with integrated communication, coordination and collaboration systems. It’s a brand new market, currently with no clear market leaders.
This is going to be the quintessential battlefield in what some refer to as the convergence of telecom and IT. And the telecom industry already possesses vital components – infrastructure and the access network – that could completely change the dynamics of the Unified Communication & Collaboration (UCC) market. Furthermore, telcos have little to lose and everything to win, while most IT players are in more defensive positions, with much to lose.
Yet nothing is for certain, and the situation of knowledge workers is only getting worse, not better. Now is the time for action, for standing still means getting left behind.