Transformers – robots in disguise

Posted on: Nov 1, 2017 by Rob Keenan

I was asked to do a blog for Unify about transforming your infrastructure to modern collaboration, I was thinking how best to do this, when I thought about it I thought use myself as a good example. I think I have always been transforming how I work, where I work and the tools I use. I remember my first job in the 90’s at a now disappeared large UK company – GEC (General Electric Company). GEC was one of those monoliths of UK industry where the job for life was invented.

When I arrived on my first day I was sat down at a green terminal screen and told I would be sharing my analogue telephone with someone else. This was my first introduction to ‘digital workplace’ but it was mainly an analogue workplace – with a text based screen. Having come from University which had pretty decent computing equipment this was a real step backward, maybe this is how new employees coming into businesses now feel, they expect social media type, work anywhere capabilities, but are handed a PC login and told to use email and that something called the intranet has all the information they need.


Later in GEC I was one of the first to use a PC, and using email, and even was allowed (with very senior management signoff) to have an email address to use this new, but never will catch on place, called the internet. I quickly moved to having my own PC and a few years down the line was able to have a laptop – so the days of delivering acetate presentations were finally gone (for those who don’t know use the internet to see what a great experience using acetate for presentations was).

At this point GEC had morphed into a telecoms giant called Marconi, again technology moved on we had mobile phones, we had laptops with VPN and wireless which for the first time were able to move around the office to work and also occasionally work from home using a new technology, called dial-up (ask your dad).

A few years later I joined Siemens Enterprise Communications now Unify, and was given a laptop and Nokia phone, sometime later we discovered OpenScape UC and also our development released a mobile client as some kind of toy, it was a monolith on the moon moment for me as it struck me that all this technology is no good unless I can move it around with me. This was the moment I realised that unified communications and mobile are synonymous, all we needed was for someone to invent a phone which was smart, a smartphone if you will, and some bright spark in California did and the rest is history.

I continued my journey of transformation with the advent of Unify’s Circuit which has truly changed how I work, how well I work and how much I enjoy work. My boss says to me – it’s easy for you you’ve grown up with all of this stuff, you’ve got a lot of stuff which others don’t have. This always reminds me to think that a great majority of people don’t have and probably never have had these kinds of tools, and my observation is that businesses are missing a trick to motivate and help their employees do more, work smarter not harder, as the old saying go.

The path now is to the digital workplace, this is not some office with lots of gadgets hung on a desk but the virtual place for you to work, achieve and also develop your skills and role – technology leading to business transformation creates new roles and new possibilities – just remember 25 years ago Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix did not exist and Apple was a niche computer manufacturer for graphic artists – so times change and get busy changing with it.

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About Rob Keenan

Director, Sales Enablement