The workplace is changing before our eyes. It is no longer about a physical environment. Getting up and going to work in the morning no longer means performing the same tasks with the same devices operating on the same technology each day, let alone doing it in the same physical location. For any number of roles within a growing spectrum of industries and markets, the workplace can be as varied as New England weather.
At best, it creates challenges for IT teams, which have to support these mobile workforces; at worst, it creates major challenges for the workers, for whom mobility becomes and obstacle, rather than a benefit.
When the networks, devices, and unified communications capabilities are in harmony, the flexibility of mobility allows us to work more efficiently, conveniently and, often, more happily – and we all know the saying about happy employees.
Where does this leave us in an age where IT staff are taxed with managing a multitude of devices and applications to support a fluid workforce? It’s one reason why we have entered what can best be described as an Anything-as-a Service era. Why not, then, Workplace-as-a-Service?
Why not wrap a complete managed network and communications service into a package to enable workers to leverage the capabilities that are supposed to be at their disposal, while taking the management and maintenance off IT’s plate?
Sprint (News - Alert) buys into the idea – it recently launched its WPaaS offer with the intent of simplifying the technology landscape for SMBs as well as multi-location enterprises. Not only does the WPaaS combine the technology into a bundled offer – including the networking, BYOD/MDM, and Lync-based UCC suite – but it also means the business has predictable recurring costs for all its communications services, a single point of contact for service and support, and a single bill. Not everyone needs a single throat to choke, as the saying goes, but the SMB market, in particular, needs a simplified solution without sacrificing features – the ageless story of SMB technology.
“It’s about providing a turnkey employee enablement service,” explains Craig Safir, director, Cloud and Converged Markets at Sprint, “that allows business leaders to focus on their business and employees, not their services and technology.”
According to Safir and Joe Martin, director, National Solutions Engineering, Enterprise Solutions, the service was born out of Sprint’s own experiences and needs when building out its headquarters. It presented a real need for a solution that would enable supporting business initiatives without disrupting operations, which then evolved into a very real broader business opportunity. Incidentally, it also creates an inherent business continuity plan.
The key feature, of course, is mobility, but the reason the WPaaS solution is a differentiator is it integrates entire business networking and communications bundle around the concept of mobility. It’s not just about being able to email, or participate in conference calls, or access network resources, or collaborate. It’s about all of these features being just features, regardless of location or device, which is why it’s been rolled out as a multi-carrier BYOD solution.
Not surprisingly, it quickly becomes something of an addictive offer within businesses. Often, a single group or site starts off trying out WPaaS, which quickly results in others expressing interest as well after seeing the benefits.
“All we typically need to get in the door is one site,” says Martin. “Then, it turns into something of a Trojan Horse once they realize to what extent WPaaS allows them to forget about all the IT and the technology and the software and, well, just lets them grow their business.”
The truth is there are many solutions available that bring mobility into business environments. Most, however, aren’t tightly integrated and include only partial applications, services, or feature sets that deliver different experiences to different users. Because Sprint has taken and wrapped all the core telecom and IT into a single bundled and managed service, they are able to more effectively integrate the capabilities and deliver them consistently across networks and devices.
It makes sense. It’s something any SMB should at least investigate, and it’s likely just the beginning, as Sprint has built the bottom layer of an evolving cloud-based business service platform.