When Sheffield pop heroes the Arctic Monkeys took a bold step by releasing a vinyl single back in 2009, many of their teenage fans had never seen a black plastic disc go round and round and had to go in the loft to find their parents old player. But they quickly realised that they loved the music sound, with a “richer and deeper” tone provided by vinyl. By 2015, 1.3 million vinyl albums were sold in the UK. With real music you get sleeve notes and cover art. It’s music to have and to hold and argue over with your mates. In the march to ubiquitous mp3s we had lost something important and it took another look to realise its value
The reasons for a piece of technology thriving can be diverse and change over time. Sometimes you never realise what you miss until its not there. Like vinyl records, “Call Logging” sprang to prominence in a previous era, and the traditional business drivers for ‘Call logging’ or ‘Call accounting’ have largely disappeared over the last 20 years. In the 1980’s and 90’s the costs for calling a mobile telephone were astronomical, as were international calls, and one of the key drivers was the cost to the business. If a single call to Cellnet cost over £1.50 per minute and you had over a 1000 employees, then the business could see costs escalated quickly.
With the advent of IP infrastructures post-millennium and the deregulation of the telecommunications market throughout the 90’s, the costs of calls has sunk to the point where it has become almost irrelevant to the business. With companies such as Gamma essentially ‘giving away’ local and national calls and charging pennies for non-geographic and mobile numbers, the focus moved to performance.
Citizens charter (now we are getting retro!)
When John Major introduced this in 1991, the idea was save time and money within the public sector, and one of the areas commonly targeted was telecommunications. Within this area there arose a whole change in focus around call logging where the local authority or government department became focused on unanswered calls, answer times and grades-of-service. These metrics allowed team leaders and telecoms managers to identify bottle-necks and weak area within their telephone systems. The recession of the early 1990’s added to the public sectors fixation on telephone performance as they saw it as a tool to reduce costs within their departments and assist with their diminishing budgets.
The Sea change
The market crashes of 2008 and austerity actions of Government from 2010 onward made a lot of business and public sector organisations take a hard look at their internal BI platforms and wonder if they were actually required, and if so, what real benefits did they provide to the organisation.
At the same time that this was happening, a huge change was occurring in personal and business communications. Tied to the growth of high-speed internet, reduced costs of communications and the advent of smart phones and devices, the rise of email, IP Telephony, real-time collaboration and instant messaging massively affected the way business was conducted.
The table below shows the main communications technologies in use and the priority of their use.
Skype for business / Lync
WebEx / MeetMe
Desktop Video conferencing
From Baby Boomers to Millennials and SoHo (Small Office/Home Office)
Businesses post 2010 have taken a hard look at their cost of operating and come to the realisation that if they can reduce their square-footage of office space, it will make a significant impact on their bottom-line. Some might point out that this is one of the basic premises of Porters Value Chain, and they would be right! If the cost of producing your product or service includes a cost of £4,500 per square foot per annum and you can reduce that then the profit margins increase.
One of the methods that the City has employed to achieve this is to provide flexible working for staff. This includes flexi-time, home-working and shared ‘hot desk’ office space.
The immediate savings are self-evident, but this leads to a number of serious issues with monitoring the business.
- How do you know where your staff are at any given time?
- How can you measure their performance?
- How can you ensure that your office security is not compromised?
Call Logging redefined – UCentric
In moving to SoHo we need to reinvent logging. Not just calls this time but the full unified communications spectrum. MIT’s UCentric solution allows the monitoring of multiple technologies simultaneously, and allows each of those data sources to be attributed to an individual or team of individuals in order to provide a meaningful insight into the performance of the business and its internal communications platforms. UCentric also allows the addition of previously inaccessible data sources to provide the ‘big picture’, this include;
- Collaboration data (WebEx / RTC)
- Building access data (swipe card / RFID tags)
- Environmental data (Temperature / environment sensors, historic weather reporting)
- Vending data (Coffee machines, staff canteen usage)
- Home working data (VPN access, Keyboard activity, Email activity)
All these sources create a vivid picture of employees behaviour, needs and productivity to fill the void left by the smart office. People are still the most important resource in any company, and “what they do?” and “how they do it?” is some of the most important data that any company can have.
As is the case with vinyl records there is something intrinsically valuable about logging “people data”. After we uploaded our CD collections to iTunes, then abandoned that for the endless buffet of streaming, the unseen benefits of listening to vinyl became apparent. All the digital inventions (MP3s, iPods, Wi-Fi, cloud computing) that brought us free, invisible, disembodied music anywhere, anytime, made us value the visibility of music we can own, display, touch and feel with all our senses. Visibility of our people, is like the return of vinyl, and it represents not regression, but progress.