UC Is A Concept, Not Just A Technology
What is unified communications? The simple answer is that UC is the convergence of enterprise channels in the same location. Some people believe that this just means having a smartphone. All the platforms on one device should be more than sufficient for the modern, remote workforce, right? Wrong.
Even if text, email, voice and other assets are on the same phone, their inability to work alongside each other is ultimately their undoing in an office environment. These silos can be just as detrimental as the ones that involve landline-only phone service and inhibit the collaboration they are intended to facilitate. Regardless of if these channels are all "in the cloud," so to speak, their potential is greatly diminished if several different clouds are in place.
"We are working hard toward that goal of unified communications, but all around us, services and vendors are doing their best to 'unbundle' our communications, and instead of placing them all in a single place, they are stitching them all over, giving them new meaning and new life," wrote No Jitter contributor Tsahi Levent-Levi. "And they are doing it in a way that isn't unified at all, but in silos - each connected to their service offerings."
With more people looking to work outside of the office proper, cloud unified communications needs to be thought of as a collaboration-fostering asset. Rather than having just a means of delivering a message or checking in on a colleague, professionals will need to work together on digital channels the way they've historically worked in person. In order to achieve this, cloud UC must be considered as a collaborative idea rather than a technological buzzword.
Remove Multi-Tasking From The Equation
The problem with many standing communications strategies is that they aren't focused enough. The means of connection is more important than the people involved. One conversation might need instant messaging and video at the same time, but many products don't consider this. This means that one task - reaching another person and collaborating remotely - becomes several different activities, which is not a very effective way to work.
"[T]he reality is, most of us can't process more than a certain amount of information at any given time," stated No Jitter contributor Melanie Turek. "Research shows that we are terrible at multi-tasking, even if we think we aren't. And get more than three people into a meeting and it all goes south. Indeed, when we look at how people work well together, the most critical element is to keep it small: involve just two or three people; keep the project focused on discrete tasks; and limit the number of inputs - people, data, tech--that need to be involved in the engagement."
This singular simplicity is particularly important for the UC platform itself. Having one program instead of many siloed apps makes remote collaboration much more manageable and intuitive. The days of having to end a phone call in order to share a link are over, and enterprise solutions need to reflect that fact.
Expectations Are Changing
The most important thing to remember about these developments is that employees are clued in. The modern world is full of advanced consumer technology. Now that people are seeing what smartphones, apps and the cloud are truly capable of in their personal lives, they expect the companies that employ them to recognize the potential they have for innovation.
But the key is not to allow staffers to pick and choose their own segmented tools. Turek believes that "technology can't change human nature." This means investing in solutions that embrace employee intuition and foster their cloud-focused inclinations.
"What's complicated is actual collaboration," Turek stated. "The need for [unified communication and collaboration] is there, of course; the changing nature of the workplace demands it. No one expects to be able to find their colleagues in person any more, regardless of where they work - we are too busy being 'mobile' and 'virtual' for that. Technology had to be developed to take the place of the in-person interactions that, until a decade ago, were the foundation of the workplace. UCC tools satisfy that."
Cloud unified communications will be essential to support modern workers. Effective remote collaboration will be a key component of enterprise operations moving forward.