The communications (r)evolution part 1: Drivers and trends shaping the future

by Eduard du Plessis, MD of EOH Network Solutions Division

The expression “The only constant in life is change” has never been more true. Across modern society, we are reinventing how we work and how we play – with technology forming the foundation of our lives. Spurred on largely by millennials, the world is heading in the direction of a mobile, hyperconnected culture where proximity and access are no longer relevant.

Reality meets science fiction in the digital realm

Digital economy seems to have more in common with science fiction than reality – with video calls being used to diagnose and treat health issues – with doctors and patients sitting on different continents – and the use of smart sensors in objects to enable automated reporting in what is being referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Everything (IoE).

This is the tip of the iceberg, and the modern communications landscape will continue to change as new ways of working and new technologies enhance our ability to connect with each other. From the rotary phone to broadband and the IoE, the evolution of communications has accelerated at an exponential rate, and will continue to do so.

Innovation and new technology are at the centre of the changing future of work. Gone are the days where productivity was measured by hours in the office and where the office was a single physical location. Today’s work is about teams and projects; it’s about outcomes and deliverables. Today’s office is wherever the employee is. Our reality today is not the futuristic idea of robots and flying cars we dreamed of in the ’80s, but instead the multi-purpose device we carry in our pockets – the smartphone. Mobility and connectivity are changing the world into a collaborative, social, always-connected environment.

The effect on company communications

In light of this, corporate communications is having to evolve alongside society. With today’s workforce spanning generations and geographies, employees are not only demanding constant access to company systems, they require flexibility in order to perform.

Millennials will make up the bulk of the global workforce by 2020, and their attitudes and values are already impacting the future of work. For millennials, the concept of being office-bound and having to endure restrictions on their use of applications is foreign and nothing short of frustrating. Life without mobile access to the tools they need, when they need them, is unimaginable. This attitude has crossed all the generations that are today’s workforce, and as people change their work styles to become more adaptable and mobile, companies are having to adapt to meet employees’ demands.

Millennials are curious, intuitive, always on the go and connected to each other. They have a culture that does not define work and play as separate things – in fact, they work while they play and they play while they work. Work for them is part of their lives and they’ve created these work communities with the same characteristics as today’s social communities. They care about their environment and each other. They care about sustainability. Mobility and connectivity are essential for their survival.

How should companies respond?

The result of all of this is that company networks need to be re-evaluated and, in some cases, completely redesigned. Cloud computing has enabled changes in the ways we work, but the end result is that companies need more bandwidth – and this need is only going to continue growing. As businesses continue to unify communications, using technologies such as instant messaging and web conferencing in the daily course of business, and as real-time communication and collaboration become more prevalent, bandwidth demands will continue accelerating. In addition, security will become increasingly important as everything – and everyone – becomes constantly connected.

In the future, the hyperconnected, mobile, globalised workforce will pick and choose where they work on the basis of what the company can offer them in terms of quality of life as well as technology. Companies will be taking work to talent and talent will choose who they work for. Millennials favour companies that make sure they have the latest and best technologies in place, empowering them to work and play with ease.

Du Plessis will delve deep into each of the trends changing our workplaces today and in the future in a series of articles. Look out for The Communications (r)evolution Part 2 next month.


Eduard du Plessis is a telecommunications specialist and has been passionately involved in product development, operations and product marketing in the telecommunications industry since 1997. Eduard was the MD at InfoSat from 1997 to 2002 and in 2003 he founded Ensync Business Solutions. He has driven two successful start-up companies in the mobile data and wireless networking spaces (Ensync and AfricaINX) and is now the MD at EOH Network Solutions in its telecommunications sector.