November 1, 2023
On a recent visit to Taiwan, Chong-Win Lee and his team demonstrated the unmatched power of communication within a company.
Hosting global executives – in this instance, Bob Bailkoski as CEO of Logicalis – requires an expected degree of preparation and strategy.
In theory, the aim is to balance two-way dialogue between travelling leaders and local employees – allowing for healthy discussion and alignment. In practice however, such endeavours can prove challenging in multi-language, multi-region or multi-city environments.
“Bob could only visit Taipei but we wanted to set up an inclusive all-hands meeting and bring in all of our teams across Taiwan, such as in Taichung and Tainan,” explained Chong-Win, speaking as CEO of Asia.
“We set up the audience remotely but their command of English isn’t as strong so we maximised generative AI to provide automatic real-time transcription. As Bob was speaking in English, his words were being transcribed into Mandarin and traditional Chinese.”
Whether to create efficiency, improve collaboration or simply show respect, organisations should not underestimate the importance of strong communication in the corporate world.
As noted by James Humes – an author and speechwriter for several US presidents, including Ronald Reagan – “the art of communication is the language of leadership”.
It’s not only what a CEO says but also, how they say it. And this principle can be applied to any position of authority across the C-suite, whether CIO, CTO, CDO, CISO or COO among others.
Yet this fundamental requirement is at risk of being lost in an industry overflowing with hybrid work commentary – countless articles that focus on the solution or the screen.
“Almost everything falls under the mega-trend of hybrid work but what’s only ever visible or focused on is the actual video or meeting element,” Chong-Win said.
Reframing hybrid work strategies
Implementing a true hybrid work strategy goes beyond the meeting solution deployed and is grounded in an ability to ensure positive audience experiences.
“There’s lot of initiatives taking place whereby we are actively monitoring the quality of the underlying network, the application and the customer experience,” Chong-Win added. “This is about performance monitoring which are new areas that customers are starting to explore.”
In that context, what organisations don’t always see are examples such as the smart use of translation in Taiwan to provide experience equity among staff or the overhauling of virtual town halls to strengthen executive messaging and employee engagement.
“We’ve spent the past three years experimenting with different ways to deliver all-hands, trying out different meetings, solutions and platforms,” Chong-Win shared. “This has also extended to experimenting with the best ways to deliver content, whether that be through video or trying out green room studio alternatives as well.”
As acknowledged by Chong-Win, the marketing team of Logicalis in Asia – namely Tsz Chun Chan and Kimberly Ang – have been “instrumental” in redefining how the company maximised the potential of hybrid work in the context of communication via town halls.
“It’s not just about delivering the technology, rather helping to orchestrate, organise and implement more engaging town halls,” he said. “Ultimately, that will drive engagement for employees who are not necessarily always in the office. We’re focused on helping customers in technology advisory, implementation and execution.”
While viewed as a necessity during the height of COVID-19, the majority of organisations have since failed to weaponise technology in a manner capable of truly boosting engagement levels.
“We’ve ran at least two town hall sessions for our customers in Hong Kong even though we’re not an events company,” Chong-Win noted. “But we see the value in terms of what this can bring to the table and it now forms part of our collaboration offering. This is now available to our customers via an as-a-service model.”
According to Chong-Win, any organisation housing a distributed workforce spanning multiple countries – or even within a single country – across Asia must prioritise driving effective engagement among employees.
“Being able to create engaging all-hands sessions but delivered in a hybrid environment is now a skill that enterprise organisations must cultivate,” he advised.
In other words, simply setting up a Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx or Zoom meeting and sharing the link to a company-wide audience is no longer enough – if it ever was.
“When you think about it, it’s easy to have a four-party video meeting but what happens when the meetings become bigger?” Chong-Win asked.
“That might include running two different virtual rooms with 10 people in each, plus others joining individually. That’s when dedicated fit-for-purpose endpoints and in-room devices become much more important to ensure the quality of meetings are preserved.”
Such an evolution – pioneered by in-house experimentation from forward-thinking companies like Logicalis – is paving the way for the next level of hybrid work, chiefly in the form of immersive experiences.
“We see this on the horizon and in some areas, this is already happening in the enterprise. Every major collaboration vendor has a strategy around immersive environments, avatars and how businesses can take full advantage of headsets plus virtual reality and augmented reality.”
But despite the direction of travel and emerging of new technologies, Chong-Win stressed the importance of rolling out enterprise fundamentals in the form of hardened security underpinned by modernised applications and networks.
“Security is paramount and even more of a conundrum for CISOs when employees are largely distributed,” he said. “The enterprise must ensure that security policies are still executed in a consistent way while not being overly restrictive to employees.”
In response, Chong-Win said Logicalis is actively deploying security services and solutions via the cloud to mitigate distributed workforce risks, triggering increased end-user interest in SASE (secure access service edge) offerings as a result.
“Customers view cloud as a logical way of implementing consistent security policies in a time in which employees are distributed and organisational security parameters are no longer within company data centres,” Chong-Win advised.
“A positive experience for any modernised cloud-based application can’t be delivered unless a robust network is in place. Network transformation is now a top priority for many of our customers.”
Addressing evolving corporate objectives
Given that hybrid work is “here to stay” in Asia, Chong-Win said the enterprise is now primarily motivated by using this default industry position as a way to:
“If you read the news, we’re all supposed to be building organisations capable of attracting these young workers,” Chong-Win noted.
In response, Chong-Win said companies must assess how to build an “optimal and efficient” hybrid work environment capable of providing the right level of flexibility while allowing employees to achieve high levels of engagement through application and data access.
“But this approach must also ensure that company data is secure and security posture is not compromised,” he cautioned.
In assessing end-user appetite for transformation within this space, Chong-Win observed a “clear trend” of organisations embracing new software and hardware solutions at pace.
For example, Logicalis was recently selected as a partner of choice for the launch of Microsoft Teams Room (MTR) on Cisco devices.
The move is designed to allow organisations to run Microsoft Teams natively on Cisco Room and Desk devices Certified for Microsoft Teams, with the option of Teams as the default experience.
This is in addition to enhancing Logicalis’ hybrid work-as-a-service offering, built to modernise hybrid working environments via a subscription model. Key end-to-end lifecycle service offerings include devices, meeting solutions, analytics and security, embedded with adoption services.
“There’s a wide plethora of solutions now being considered by customers, whether as straightforward meeting solutions or more immersive meeting environments,” Chong-Win explained. “In some cases, it could be as simple as coming into a room and starting a hybrid meeting without any fanfare.”
Communication aside, the increased levels of organisational responsibility specific to environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) is also creating a domino effect on hybrid work strategies.
“This is a big focus,” Chong-Win detailed. “For example, if you’re a listed company then you’re typically mandated to share your progress with regards to reducing your carbon footprint.
“Hybrid work is a straightforward solution in the sense of reducing corporate air travel and is easy to implement from a policy change perspective. Many customers are viewing this as an impactful and quantifiable way to demonstrate sustainability progress.”
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