How digital work tools enable cultural change | Philipp Bohn, VP Circuit & CEO BlueKiwi

#DigitalTechnologies — Humans Of New Work

What came first, digital tools or new work culture? Only together can they have an impact, explains Philipp Bohn is Vice President Marketing Cloud Collaboration at Unify, the Atos specialist for communication software and services

that launched the cloud communication tool Circuit as well as CEO at blueKiwi Software in Paris. For Philipp, it’s clear that only both tools and culture together can have a real impact. He watched the beginning of the digital age as telephony developed with voice over IP later resulting in the market launch of Apple’s iPhone. Today, he asks himself how tools will enable and adapt to the new world of work.

After completing a degree in economics and working in the field of communication software, at Unify, formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications, Philipp realized how the connection to individual users was continuously increasing. Instead of viewing technology solely from a functional standpoint, Philipp counted on enabling a fun, user-friendly experience when collaborating. Highly ambitious, he paved the way for executive decision-makers, allowing for the company’s successful collaboration with frog design.

“Circuit evolved through a collaboration between of frog design and Unify. We followed our objective of developing intuitive, cloud-based, and user-centered software. To achieve this, we needed the right expertise, methods like design thinking, and agile processes. That’s how we were able to reduce established development life-cycles from two plus years to just two-week sprints. After having experienced our own cultural change, we now help other companies take their teamwork to another level by using tools.”

Circuit facilitates effective communication by unifying speech, video, screen sharing, chat and data sharing all in one app instead of four different ones. As the Circuit team itself is virtual, based out of Athens, UK, Florida, Germany, and various home offices, Philipp knows from personal experience how efficiently one can work once you slim down the ‘zoo of applications,’ as he puts it. The speed of today’s product developments and new business models is increasing at breakneck speeds, a trend the VP also sees in team composition.

“We have to combine skills from the outside and inside to cope with the increasing complexity triggered by digitization. The next generations of employees set higher standards for their work life and just don’t accept if for example, outdated tools don’t meet their current demands or if they lack good mobile user experience. Tools come into play but not without culture. Tools and culture need to fuse. It’s not enough to have only one aspect change and not the other.”

Even though tools permit fluid, transparent communication and collaboration independent of a particular location and time, what binds teams together are still the same ‘old school mechanisms,’ explains Philipp. Trust plays a huge role. There’s weekly jour fixe, 1–1 meetings between managers and teams to exchange both private and work related topics, as well as a physical meeting every quarter. Staying in continuous contact allows for knowledge sharing and creates intimacy in the virtual workspace.

Through his work with companies at Circuit, Philipp has identified the top challenge of actually accepting and implementing change in one’s behavior. That’s how, wanting change, clients sometimes demand new tool features that they are familiar with from old tools. It remains a longer process than Philipp would have expected, yet an exciting one. Especially with traditional companies where all too often emails and telephone calls are still a company’s principal means of day-to-day communication. Even more important for Philipp and Circuit is the ability to tackle the task of covering different sorts of needs and keeping the barrier to change low.

“There are still many mental models that aren’t easily dissolved. It’s important to explain the necessity and purpose of change. People are willing and open to change, but you must take them by the hand and pull them through. Speaking from the tool perspective, Circuit includes telephony but also cloud collaboration. For us, it’s essential to bring old and new methods together, and this applies to the whole digital transformation.”

Originally published at