How technology is changing the way we work

David Sturges, Chief Commercial Officer at hosted desktop company, WorkPlaceLive, discusses what kinds of technology small firms are embracing to expand their businesses.

Small companies need to be able to act like larger companies to compete in a highly competitive marketplace. Increasingly, companies are embracing technologies such as cloud computing, VOIP, Skype and video conferencing to improve their responsiveness, support their consultants working remotely and expand their businesses.

Advances in technology have made this possible and systems such as hosted desktops supported by cloud technology are being adopted by companies to enable their consultants to work smartly and effectively from any location.

Using a hosted desktop, consultants can access all their files and databases on the move. This means they can respond quickly to clients. It also means they can work more productively – for example, updating their notes post meetings without having to return to the office and making use of down time when travelling on a train for instance.

The ability to respond quickly can put businesses ahead of competitors that don’t have such facilities. Using hosted desktops in conjunction with technologies such as video conferencing or Skype also allows a flexible and remote workforce to function from any location, improving workforce productivity and effectiveness, as well as negating the need for big offices, which can save money.

We recently attended an exhibition and were approached by several start-up recruitment firms looking for technology to support entirely virtual businesses, with all the consultants working from home and on the move. I think this will be a key trend in the future.

If a company outsources all data and IT systems to a managed service provider, they won’t need any servers in the office or have to manage any software licensing or administration issues, saving them time and money. The latest software and security will also be provided and having ‘corporate grade’ IT at an affordable price could aid new business development and growth.

One company that has adopted a hosted desktop service to expand internationally is Oasis HR, a fast growing, HR recruitment agency that has successfully developed its business using a partnership model. In 2011 Oasis’s directors wanted to expand into the USA and Asia by developing a network of exclusive strategic partnerships in these countries. The plan was to identify associates that could be integrated into the business quickly and at the same time ensure that its clients received a seamless and consistent level of service.

The company required all its employees to access the same IT systems, including the CRM database and talent management software, from anywhere in the world to enable real-time information sharing and consistent working processes. The company realised the most logical progression would be to move away from a local IT server supported by an external provider and adopt a cloud-based, hosted model instead.

This approach supported the organisation’s international expansion plans and enabled it to offer employees flexible working arrangements. Today, its consultants around the world are all using the same IT systems and working just as effectively when they are out of the office working remotely as if they were sitting at their desktops.