Employees Need Support From Unified Communications

    It's safe to say that the concept of unified communications has become less of a fad and more of a requirement. The world over, a greater number of enterprises are adapting or replacing their existing infrastructures in order to access more modern forms of functionality. Yet, there are still other companies that are hesitant.

    "Unified Communications (UC) has come of age," wrote Unified Communications Strategies co-founder Blair Pleasant. "People are no longer asking, 'What is UC?,' but rather, 'How should we develop our UC strategy?' and 'What are the best ways to deploy UC?' While many organizations are considering moving to unified communications, they don't know where to start. Developing a UC strategy can be a complex and daunting task."

    Aversion to these evolving resources is not only becoming inadvisable, but also counterproductive. As a greater number of companies begin to leverage these tools, their peers who fail to do the same are putting themselves at an increasing disadvantage. It may be that a business is not able to plan these deployments on their own, and require assistance from a team of communications professionals.

    Should this be the case, it will be important for an organization to align themselves with the telecom provider that is able to offer them the highest level of functionality. Modern employees are used to performing advanced IT operations in their personal lives, and as such expect to be able to do so in the professional sphere. Companies that are interested in retaining their top talent will need to make sure that workers are enabled in ways that will increase their productivity - something that has become complicated by the use of employee-owned devices.

    Mobility Is A Key Concern

    The consumerization of IT has, in a way, created a very self-sufficient workforce. Thanks to tools like the cloud, a greater number of enterprise staffers have found that working from home or on the road is easier than ever - and as such expect their offices to foster this kind of flexibility.

    "Whether they are mobile – commuting from place to place – or working remotely, [workers] are in greater need of advanced [collaboration] tools and more convenient access to those tools," said Frost & Sullivan program director Elka Popova to Channel Partners contributor Khali Henderson. "As mobile devices become so much cheaper and more available and everybody has them, increasingly we are looking to provide access to these applications specifically on mobile devices."

    But for those organizations that have yet to update or uproot their legacy systems, this has created a number of complications. Cloud communications are in high demand by employees all over the world, but some workplaces are, in many ways, not ready for it. This does not mean that they shouldn't seek cloud UC out, but simply that transition processes will vary by instance. Putting a new system in place requires a lot from management and workers alike, and bracing for these assets is not generally cut and dry.

    Adopting Rates Growing

    The widespread transition to UC is not speculation - it is a very real phenomenon. According to recent research from CompTIA, at least two-thirds of enterprises in the United States and the United Kingdom are collaborating through VoIP systems and other UC assets like video in order to improve productivity.  Similar studies from Gartner have indicated that mobile support for unified collaboration and communication tools contribute to positive growth.

    "In the past, collaboration on mobile devices meant interaction through wireless messaging and voice calls," state Gartner research vice president Monica Basso. "Today, smartphones and tablets have larger screens, touch-based user interfaces (UIs), location support, broad network connectivity, enhanced cameras and video support, voice over IP (VoIP) and so on. Such features enable a range of applications – both traditional and new – for employees to better communicate, collaborate, socialize, create and consume content."

    These are signs of the times. Because so many people are able to effectively use advanced IT in their personal lives, they see no reason why their employers should not allow them to bring these tools into the workplace. But allowing application choices to be fair game is considered just as counterproductive as taking no action at all.

    Management Has To Support UC Initiatives

    While bring your own device has managed to find a safe place in the office, bring your own solution generally has not. Employees cannot just be allowed to use their smartphones and tablets. Not only are many app store selections generally lacking in proper security, but having many of them in the workplace can create a disjointed experience that fails to truly unify staffers.

    Modern companies need to make unified communications a priority. As more companies invest in these kinds of systems, it will be essential for those competing with them to stay ahead.