Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) is a term that is heard with increasing frequency in organisations around the world. The UC&C market is growing too, as enterprises currently spend on average $8.1 million on UC&C technologies and services. This increased investment is justified though. Companies that deploy these tools yield remarkably positive results. For instance, enterprises with highly-effective internal communications offer 47% higher returns for shareholders.
So, clearly communication is vital; but failure to promote effective communication and collaboration internally comes at a high price. Nearly $37 billion is lost yearly due to employee misunderstandings and poor communication. Moreover, in a business of 100 employees, 17 hours a week, on average, is spent seeking clarification, resulting from misguided communication. Investing in UC&C, therefore, becomes critical and enables firms to take a proactive and strategic approach to “future-proofing” communication technology investments.
In addition, as UC&C technology usage grows, it is important to view this trend alongside the increasingly popular adoption of cloud technologies. Seventy-one percent of IT decision makers have said that cloud computing has influenced their purchasing plan, and it is estimated that 60 percent of IT professionals at public sector agencies expect cloud to be the de facto standard for all applications in the organisation by 2020.
Further, with the global mobile workforce expected to reach 1.45 billion this year, the longevity of UC&C provides a clear-cut way for enterprise to nail down a long-term collaboration strategy and ensure continued communication, and subsequent organisational success. Anecdotally, UC&C has become a necessity for most organisations too. Consider your own experiences. When pressed to think about it you’ll acknowledge that the use of technology has naturally evolved alongside technological innovation, changing how, when and where we work? Just think about when mobile phones, Skype and tools like Slack were introduced.
The technologically-literate modern worker no longer only wants traditional aspects of collaboration (for example, just conference calling), but also demands an integrated approach to how they communicate with their teammates, whether by voice, video, chat or audio.
Chief Information Officers and Line of Business leaders now, more than ever, are under pressure to provide employees with access to these types collaborative tools that can streamline their communication tasks and increase productivity and efficiency across business units. Therefore, adopting the right UC&C approach, enables teams to meet an enterprise’s communication objectives. But, what should IT consider as they develop their UC&C strategy?
Choosing a UC&C technology ally
As with any enterprise software purchase, there are several factors to consider when developing a UC&C strategy that is aligned with your organisation’s needs, scale and reach. They include:
Know your business communication needs
Before any technology is invested in, it’s important to ask: what technology does my organisation really need? What is the make-up of the team: gen Xers, baby boomers, millennials? How does my business operate: is it entirely office-based or virtual? Does it rely on remote and teleworkers? What are the current communication requirements against the future direction of the business? What type of people are employed? What are their collaborative personality types? Once you know this information you can build a business case for UC&C and then review your technology and feature requirements.
Provider’s History, Reputation and Customer Base
While collaboration start-ups and the Silicon Valley giants can grab headlines and VC funding, few companies in the world are equipped to support the collaboration needs of the largest global corporations. One of the first areas to evaluate when reviewing options is how many other large companies they’ve successfully supported, how successful they’ve been in doing so and their level of experience in the marketplace. Case studies, customer testimonials, reference customers and more are all invaluable assets throughout the conferencing buying cycle.
Conferencing by the Numbers
When supporting thousands of employees, numbers become very important to your conferencing approach, both in terms of simultaneous users and simultaneous meetings on your provider’s network. Carefully evaluate the meeting capacities that are available as you evaluate options, to ensure that they meet your needs, from the smallest ad hoc conference calls to large, company-wide events.
In addition, once the decision is made to deploy a technology to your extensive user base, training programmes and resources become paramount to driving usage and adoption to maximise ROI.
Security and Resiliency
Enterprises frequently exchange highly sensitive information and trade secrets during their conference calls, making their meetings some of the most important on the globe. Enterprise-grade security and encryption along with centralised IT administration allows your organisation to easily establish user permissions at either the individual or departmental level, ensuring the protection of valuable company data. And built-in network resiliency and fail-over helps ensure that your service will always be available for your critical meetings.
Regardless of the strength of a provider’s network infrastructure and resiliency, it’s inevitable that your associates will encounter problems that require customer support. For enterprises, it’s vital to provide access to multiple support avenues, including in-meeting support, live chat, phone support and customer communities to meet the diverse needs of such a large employee base.
Furthermore, the reach of multi-national corporations makes global support – in terms of network infrastructure, access points, dial-in numbers and local-language support options – a must-have component of any UC&C approach.
Analyst firm Wainhouse Research stated that more than half of web conference meetings start over 5 minutes late because of technical difficulties; software download/install delays; difficulty joining meetings; and missing materials/credentials. The cost of these delays in terms of salary and lost opportunity is incalculable.
This emphasises how critical it is to get the right UC&C strategy in place and to execute on this. Within the enterprise, where technology is bought, adopted and used at scale, every second towards productivity that is lost or gained has an impact on the bottom line. What is your strategy, where is your business headed and is your team truly communicating efficiently?
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