The Lego Movie is a Perfect Parable for Modern Business Collaboration
The Lego Movie, which I saw this weekend, is an extremely-fine film for adults as well as kids. Besides its humor and awesome animation, critics have hailed the story’s clever satire of the Hollywood summer blockbuster, giving it a 95% Freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes (higher than Oscar locks such as American Hustle, Her and Captain Philips).
We all write what we know, of course. For me, The Lego Movie offered valuable lessons about collaboration in the 21st century.
(Warning: some mild spoilers ahead)
At first glance, the movie might appear to be simply anti-collaboration. The main character, Emmet, is a construction worker in a mindlessly-conformist Lego world. “Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you’re part of the team,” goes the peppy Eurodance tune that plays ubiquitously. Like everything else, it’s mandated by the bad guy, President Business, who controls Emmet’s world through a mixture of fear and brainwashing.
The bad guy, ‘Lord Business’ voiced by comedian Will Ferrell, isn’t so bad as he is misguided about collaboration. And he comes around in the end.
To (literally) cement his already-absolute grip, President (actually, Lord) Business plans to “UNLEASH THE KRAGLE!” (actually, KRAzy GlUE) to lock every Lego mini-fig like Emmet into place, never to be taken apart, moved or rebuilt again. If you know anything about serious Lego culture today, you know that there’s a raging debate between those who build massive sets such as the Lego Taj Mahal (5,922 pieces) together by painstakingly following the instructions and then glue their sets together to preserve their hard work, and those who prefer to create (and recreate) structures and ships using pieces from many different sets.
It’s the war between conservatives and liberals, between architects who demolish to build from scratch and preservationists who refer to rehabilate old buildings, between tyrannical perfection and messy creativity, etc.
The Lego Movie doesn’t come down dogmatically on either side. While the good guys are the Lego characters fighting for the right to mix and match pieces, we also see that their overly-rugged individualism is why they’ve lost battle after battle to Lord Business. This is epitomized by the Batman Lego character, who admits in a speech that his go-it-alone ways have hurt the anti-Business rebels and alienated his girlfriend, the heroine WyldStyle (not a DJ).
At the same time, the hero Emmet shows how teamwork, conforming (somewhat) and sacrificing oneself for the greater team/cause, can lead to eventual victory. And that victory comes from convincing the bad guy, Lord Business, to basically chill out, and accept a little chaos and creativity into his world.
These are great lessons for most businesses today. Sure, letting your employees bring in their own mobile devices (BYOD) is awesome, but if not managed properly, it can create security risks and cost your company time and money. Sure, bureaucracy is a dirty word, but unless you’re a one-person startup, establishing processes, agreeing on tools, and ensuring different groups communicate and collaborate will actually be key to your success. Sure, we all idolize the creativity of the individual, but if it is in the wrong context, or unknown to the rest of the company, it’s useless or can even hurt an organization.
Anyway, I highly recommend the Lego Movie. It’ll entertain you and your kids and also reinforce some good business practices in a non-preachy way.
Avaya tries to encourage this blended, agile collaboration in our own products, such as the newly-announced Avaya IP Office Contact Center. This brings a powerful customer care solution to small and midsized businesses who prefer the ease-of-use and manageability of a suite approach (Avaya IP Office is a fast-growing communications software that boasts 12 million users). “We are positive on Avaya’s introduction of IP Office Contact Center to meet the needs of small and midsize businesses for a contact center requiring up to 100 agents,” wrote Ken Landoline, an analyst with Current Analysis.
“Avaya IP Office Contact Center enables us to offer new and existing IP Office customers a comprehensive feature set at an affordable price. With just a few part numbers it is simple to configure and installs quickly and easily. Now our customers are able to serve their customers – faster, efficiently and affordably,” Craig Allan, COO at Mountain West Telecom, an Avaya partner, told Call Center Info.
Our announcement garnered more than 52 press reports, including:
Seeing into the Office of the Future
Dubai is heavily focused on delivering on its Smart City goals, with the goal of being among the smartest—and happiest—cities in the world. The drive toward smart cities is part of a wider shift, with countries around the globe seeing a migration from rural areas to urban. With more than half the world’s population now living in cities, organizations in the Middle East are facing increasingly difficult decisions about how they allocate resources and manage their workforce.
For a city like Dubai, that can be challenging. Finding the right real-estate location for office space, managing energy usage and providing physical workspaces for employees working different shifts in a modern, 24X7 city creates its fair share of headaches. Enterprises also have to cope with an increasing Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) culture, with smartphone and device penetration especially high in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries.
We have reached an inflection point where the number of devices connected and generating data is accelerating at an exponential level. Our work environments are beginning to blur, as workspaces are no longer physical but virtual. Organizations need to deliver a consistent work experience whether in an office or on the road, or at home. The key driver is to intuitively connect not only communications devices, but interact with the ambient technologies that surround us, like lighting, BMS and signage.
At Avaya, we believe that the Smart Enterprise is one of the key building blocks for smart cities—and one of the foundations of true Smart Enterprise development will be what we term the Office of the Future. This is about more than just technology; the Office of the Future involves automating work processes within the enterprise to deliver a more intuitive employee experience. As with any “smart” solution, the Office of the Future is only smart if it resolves the challenges it aims to address.
So what do we mean by Office of the Future? Imagine walking into a new office you’ve never visited before and your work station is ready before you sit down, configured to your preferences, right down to the air conditioning settings and digital signage displayed with your identity. When a client arrives to meet you at the office, they can be sent to a meeting room automatically, and you can talk to them on their mobile as you walk to greet them.
With Avaya solutions, the act of an employee booking a workspace would kick start a workflow that immediately sets up that space with all communication devices enabled and connected securely, while interacting with the building management system to ensure the environment was set to the employee’s requirements, everything from lighting to temperature to digital signage. The employee could be identified by their phone or a card ID. When they leave, the workspace can be reset for the next employee that reserves it.
Such Smart workspaces will help enterprises manage their resources more effectively, better leverage their real estate investments, and improve employee well-being and productivity. Here in Dubai, the Office of the Future starts now.
89% of Employees Apparently Don’t Care About Mobile Security
IT security has a big job: keep corporate data safe in the face of motivated hackers and unaware employees. Today that job is harder than ever — employees are bringing their own devices and applications into the office every morning, and walking out the door with corporate data every night.
The intention behind Bring Your Own Device and Bring Your Own Apps is good: Employees want to be productive away from the office. No one wants to carry around two smartphones, or truck around two laptops while they’re on the road. Cloud-based work apps excel at document version control, are accessible everywhere, and help teams cut down on email as a collaboration tool.
The reality of BYOD and BYOA is more troublesome: If your company is one of the estimated 26 percent with no official BYOD policy in place, employees will load work email and work documents on their personal mobile devices anyway. If a company fails to give their employees the cloud-based apps they want, they’ll simply use the app’s consumer-grade version. Thousands of unsecured laptops and smartphones get lost or stolen every week. It’s estimated that 43 percent of U.S. companies have experienced a data breach in the last year alone.
Given that backdrop, ask yourself — how many mobile devices are out there with your company’s data on them? The answer might surprise you.
In a recent survey of more than 12,000 people, security software maker Kaspersky Lab found roughly half used personal smartphones, tablets or laptops for work, 36 percent kept work files on their personal devices, 34 percent accessed work-related email from personal devices, and somewhere between 11 to 18 percent carried around corporate passwords.
Asked about it, just 11 percent said they were seriously concerned about keeping work-related information secure on their personal mobile devices.
If your company doesn’t have formal policies in place around personal mobile devices, chances are, your corporate data is already heading home with employees each night. BYOD and BYOA are just the start— Bring Your Own Everything is on the horizon.
Embracing the present
The first step is to either build a BYOD and BYOA policy, or review your existing policies to keep them up-to-date.
Employees are already using their own devices and apps inside the workplace — in an April 2015 report, Netskope found the average organization is now using 730 cloud-based applications. If that number seems high, it may be time to audit the software your teams are using, and determine if sensitive corporate information is at risk of being lost in the cloud.
Next, give employees the secure tools they need to use the devices and apps they choose. Different teams may choose different engagement software based on their individual needs. Mandating the entire company standardize on a single, monolithic software platform or official device is unrealistic, and may encourage “shadow IT,” where teams ignore official channels and adopt the tools that work for them.
Information silos are dangerous. At best, silos hinder company engagement by preventing teams from getting the information they need to make informed decisions easily. At worst, silos force employees to kluge together a solution — for example, emailing data across the company in spreadsheets.
Breaking information silos apart is possible with software like the Avaya Engagement Development Platform, which allows companies to write custom code that either communication-enables their existing apps, or builds new apps to share data between silos.
Lastly, smart companies adopt multiple layers of security, knowing that data breaches are just as likely to come from within the company than without. Firewalls are not enough — network access must be segmented and role-based.
In a widely-publicized data breach last year, a major U.S. retailer admitted it had lost millions of consumer credit card numbers after it gave its HVAC vendor access to wide swaths of the company’s corporate network. Hackers breached the vendor, and used their network credentials to raid the retailer’s credit card database, which was sitting in a section of the network that an HVAC company should not have been able to access.
Virtualized, software-defined networking makes role-based network access easy, reduces the size of the network’s footprint of endpoints and obscures portions of the network from hackers. Individual devices, applications and endpoints are provisioned dynamically, with network access extending and retracting as needed.
BYOD and BYOA represent the new reality for enterprises. Take proactive steps to review your company’s BYOD and BYOA policies, give employees the tools to allow this trend, share information securely between applications and gain more control over the corporate network.
Want more? Download the new Avaya white paper, “The New Rules of Engagement.”
Avaya Showcasing Latest Hospitality Technology Solutions at HITEC 2015
Positive guest experiences are the top criteria travelers use to select hotels, far outweighing price and location. Improving the guest experience is profitable, too: Customers who report having positive guest experiences spend 140 percent more than those who had poor experiences.
Hoteliers are increasingly embracing technology to differentiate the guest experience, and Avaya is at the forefront of developing the technology (and the network) to power positive guest experiences.
Next week, Avaya will showcase its hotel solutions at HITEC 2015, the largest hospitality technology tradeshow in the world. Join us at booth #752.
Let’s take a look at two ways Avaya can help improve the guest experience.
Communication-Enabling Apps and Websites
Nearly every hotel in the world today has a website. Most major hotel chains have either launched an official mobile app, or are actively developing one. These self-service websites and apps are designed to help guests book a room, and connect with the hotel before arriving.
Forward-thinking hoteliers are building interactive tools to help enhance their guests’ experience during their stay: indoor maps, spa and restaurant reservations, room service and suggested day trips through partners.
At HITEC 2015, we’re exhibiting the Avaya Engagement Development Platform, a software development kit that makes it easy to communication-enable websites and mobile apps. With just a few steps, developers can add “click to call” buttons inside any app, instantly connecting the guest with the front desk, concierge, onsite restaurant, and more.
Flexible engagement modules, called Snap-ins, are capable of enabling a range of communication-enabled experiences. For example, a hotel might use Snap-ins to build location-aware beacons that identify VIP guests and notify hotel staff to greet them personally.
Hotel app developers are exploring time- and location-aware notifications to, for example, encourage people to book restaurant reservations during slow times, or push relevant information about the property as the guest walks past.
Avaya built EDP to be platform-agnostic—it’s designed to communication-enable any app, working with disparate content management systems, programming languages and competing silos of information.
Flexible, Virtual Networking
A flexible, virtual network is critical to a successful hotel experience. Avaya SDN Fx is an IEEE standard Ethernet architecture based on Shortest-Path Bridging that makes it simpler for hotels to provision new services and reconfigure networks on the fly.
Consider the Dubai World Trade Center, one of the world’s largest convention centers. It would sometimes take days to reconfigure the network between major tradeshows. As exhibitors showed up, technicians would invariably spend the day manually provisioning services, making changes to the network and troubleshooting errors.
With Avaya SDN Fx, provisioning time at the Dubai World Trade Center is 50- to 60 percent faster, and technicians have been able to effectively eliminate manual provisioning.
Avaya SDN Fx allows hotels to run all of their applications on one network, securely, with built-in resiliency. There’s no need to have separate networks for all hotel services. If a networking switch goes down, Avaya SDN Fx automatically routes traffic to the remaining switches.
That means guests enjoy uninterrupted WiFi. Hotels lower their IT costs by managing a single network virtually. Hotels control the applications on their networks—for example, limiting video streaming on the lobby WiFi, so that it doesn’t affect network performance for other guests.
Avaya guest engagement and simplified networks solutions help hotels deliver differentiated guest experiences. Join us as we showcase both at HITEC 2015, booth #752, from June 16-18 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas. Listen to our latest healthcare solutions podcast: Innovating the Hospitality Marketplace.