An interview with Alex Jinivizian, Verizon Enterprise Solutions' Head of Enterprise Strategy
by Jo Perrin
Technology is now central to our work and personal life in ways we couldn't have imagined just a few years ago. But has it changed our lives for the better? Here, Alex Jinivizian, Verizon Enterprise Solution's Head of Enterprise Strategy, outlines his view on how technology has impacted his world.
1. How do you use technology at work?
My team is based all around the world. For that reason, flexible access to corporate applications (intranet, e-mail, instant messaging, collaboration tools), is essential for our collective productivity. I possess multiple corporate-owned devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet) which give me seamless access to the tools (audio, web and video conferencing, e-mail, document sharing) I require to access information, communicate and manage my team effectively, wherever and whenever. For example, in years past, managing employee expenses was a cumbersome paper process; now receipts, submissions and approvals can be managed online and on mobile devices, through a link to our internal SAP system. I can also brainstorm with my team online, using whiteboarding tools to collaborate on projects where collective input is required. It's essentially practicing what we preach – Verizon's Mobile Workforce solutions portfolio is designed to enable secure access from any device, whether corporate or personal, to the tools and applications required for employees to be effective at work.
2. Has technology changed the way you work?
I think workplace technology has greatly impacted business efficiency and workforce productivity, but I also use tools to harness and contextualize the vast resources of the Internet. For example, data science is a complex new technology trend, but I can learn all about it through online courses, championed by Universities, which allow structured learning supported by experienced tutors within a community of likeminded students. I also use reader tools and dashboards to subscribe to selective blogs and twitter feeds, helping me to keep up to speed with the latest technology and market developments. It's totally feasible to meaningfully research and 'self-educate' online, and best of all, with the right tools, it's all free!
3. What about outside the workplace?
I have certainly become more of a 'digital consumer' in recent years. I watch and stream films over the Internet, I order my shopping online and have it delivered to my door, I book tickets for shows online, telephone calls cost less, and I can communicate with friends and family abroad easily and more cost effectively. It's also clear that the boundary between how you use technology for work and non-work-related activities has blurred. One of the most profound industry trends over the past few years has been the consumerization of technology. Even ten years ago, corporate IT would dictate which tools could be used or accessed at work, and had the newest and compelling applications at their disposal. However, today the tables have turned in favor of the consumer, largely been instigated by the smartphone and tablet revolution, and the rise of the application store. It's hard to imagine going back to a world where these tools were not at our disposal! However, something I am increasingly aware of is the “digital divide” between users of technology in urban versus rural environments. This remains a major issue for businesses and consumers. There are government-sponsored plans in the UK of course to guarantee 2MB access to every home, but today, I see rural communities continually disadvantaged by poor Internet access speeds and mobile data (3G+) availability.
4. Are there any downsides to using technology at work?
An irritation with workplace technology is a 'lag factor' – the fact that large corporations take a long time to enable the latest consumer devices or applications at work. This is understandable given the very real risks of cybercrime, and the importance of securing corporate data, but the recognition of the benefits 'new' technologies can bring is now changing the way CIOs approach IT delivery. For example, with 'bring your own device' programs and dual-persona devices (a mobile phone, for example, which allows a separate corporate and personal profile), employees and IT departments can ensure the right balance of policy control and personal productivity. Other than this, I suppose there is the reality of the lack of technology 'downtime'. Planes, trains, cars and even the underground are now connected, so it's increasingly important to be able to use technology effectively rather than to let technology take over.
5. Is there anything you miss from the 'olden days?'
I am very nostalgic for the days before technology became all pervasive! Most of all, I miss writing to and receiving letters from people, being sent photos in the post rather than over e-mail, and receiving a phone call rather than a text. However, I also recognise the benefits that technology continues to bring to my life – and know I couldn't live without them.