Collaboration-on-Demand: the Unified Collaboration Project at Griffith

Griffith University has over 4,000 staff operating across five campuses in the Brisbane-Gold Coast corridor. As with most modern institutions, operations include communicating and collaborating extensively with people external to the campus, nationally and internationally. There has been a growing need to a) reduce travel and other related costs and b) look for better methods for communication and collaborating between staff both internally and externally.

The University already has a diverse range of communication and collaborative technologies available for use. While they do their job well, most of these technologies are used in isolation and inherently have varying levels of complexity. The integration of these has become a priority.

In 2013, Griffith University commenced a multi-year project, called the Unified Collaboration Project,   with the aim of integrating these technologies into a unified platform that will achieve synergies and economies of scale. A core task to date has been the delivery of video phones to over 4,000 staff.  The phones are integrated with other collaborative technologies such as room based video conferencing, desktop, tablet and mobile device video conferencing, Webex and Jabber. This integrated approach allows staff to intuitively develop approaches to collaboration that were not previously possible, thus allowing them to creatively and efficiently meet their business needs while also reducing their travel requirements.

When complete, the project will have replaced around 6,000 telephone units and upgraded numerous video conference facilities across five campuses. In addition to these upgrades, a range of new technologies will be deployed to enhance the existing capabilities. To help with the take up of these technologies Workplace Solutions Consultant positions were created. These consultants assist staff to leverage the full benefits of the technologies. This includes, but is not limited to, learning and teaching, research and administrative uses.

Whilst this multi-year project is well underway at the time of writing, staff are already leveraging these technologies, providing benefits to individuals, workgroups and to the University as a whole. For example:

  • Griffith University operates across five campuses; there has been a significant reduction in inter-campus travel saving not only staff time but meeting our sustainability objectives through reduced fuel consumption.
  • Researchers using the technologies in their grant proposals to extend the reach of their research.
  • A group of academics using the technologies to undertake mock client consultations and reviews. Previously this was limited to eight per month on campus but after a trial with the new technologies they now achieve sixty per month with students around Australia.

While these types of benefits were expected, the rollout has also produced some unanticipated benefits. For example, hearing impaired staff have been utilising the video technologies to improve their interactions with other staff.

At the time of the conference in May 2015, this project will be drawing to a close and will have over twelve months of experience to draw upon. Two Griffith researchers are also studying the behavioural and business impacts from using these technologies at Griffith. An update from their research will be provided which may prove useful to those interested in similar programs of work.

This ePoster presentation takes the form of a short (3-5 minute) YouTube style video that:

  • outlines the project scope and scale.
  • explains the technologies and connectivity involved.
  • shows how technological proximity increasingly supersedes geographical proximity in modern tertiary workplaces.
  • demonstrates how this investment is impacting productivity, reducing commuting times and costs and providing access to a wider pool of potential talent.
  • demonstrates how it promotes the sustainability agenda.
  • provides some examples of use of the technologies.

Michael Deayton, Peter Ross, David Tuffley and Malcolm Wolski
Griffith University

 

For further information about the research projects see:

Ross, P   2015, The Impact of Unified Collaboration Technologies in the Workplace, Griffith University. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/10072/67405

Tuffley, D 2015, A Socio Technical Study of Videophone Adoption at a Multi-Campus University, Griffith University. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/10072/67384

 

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