Enterprises are spending on average $8.1 million on unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) technologies and services in the hope that business productivity is enhanced.
Fortunately, companies that deploy these tools receive returns, and it has been proven that enterprises with highly-effective internal communications offer 47 percent higher returns to shareholders. So, clearly UC&C is on the rise and businesses are becoming more productive and deriving value from their investments.
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In contrast, although it is clear that communications is vital, a failure to promote successful communication and collaboration internally is costly. Organisations lose approximately $37 billion yearly due to poor workplace communication.
Furthermore, in a business of 100 employees, an alarming average of 17 hours per week is spent on seeking clarifications, resulting from miscommunication. With this much wasted time, and its effects on productivity, it becomes critical for companies to seriously consider technology investments.
As the use of UC&C technology grows, so does the adoption of cloud technology. This is because most UC&C technologies are dependent on the cloud. Consider too, that we have also seen that 71 percent of IT decision makers believe cloud computing has influenced their purchasing plan. So, it appears that the two are almost synonymous with each other. Further, an estimated 60 percent of public sector IT professionals believe the cloud will be the standard for all applications by the year 2020.
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Additionally, in the next year, the global mobile workforce is expected to reach 1.45 billion people. The use of UC&C allows a clear way for enterprises to commit to a long-term collaboration strategy and ensure successful communication across their organisations.
While it is clear that cloud and UC&C is critical to the future success and productivity within organisations, it is also important to establish what the digitally capable modern worker demands. Nowadays, they expect more than traditional conference calling, but seek an integrated approach to how they communicate with their colleagues, whether by video, voice, web, chat or audio.
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This essential variety places increased pressure on IT professionals to meet the demands of their organisations and staff. Therefore, by adopting the right UC&C approach, teams can become enabled to meet an enterprise’s communication objectives. As this is carried out, what do IT leaders need to consider when building out their UC&C strategy?
Understanding your organisation’s UC&C needs
Before investing in new technology for your business, ask whether you truly need it, what is can do and if it’s feasible long-term. Naturally these are obvious, but many IT and business leaders don’t actually consider this. For instance, what are the characteristics of your team? Are they baby boomers? Millennials? What are their collaborative personality types?
Additionally, how does your business operate; is it entirely office-based or virtual? Once these questions are answered, and you have a better idea of your organisational need, you can begin to develop a business case for UC&C and then review your technology and feature requirements.
Research into your chosen provider
One of the first criteria to consider when choosing a supplier is how many other companies have they supported successfully, and what is their level of experience.
While collaboration newbies and Silicon Valley giants can achieve VC funding, few are truly equipped to support the collaboration needs of global corporates. It’s important to do your research from the very beginning and request customer references.
Consider the scale of your needs
So, you’ve chosen a supplier – great! Are they able to cope with the size of your organisation? When supporting hundreds, if not thousands of employees, scalability becomes very important to your UC&C strategy. It’s critical, too, to consider simultaneous users and simultaneous meetings on your chosen provider’s network. Can they manage these and at scale?
Businesses will need to wisely assess the meeting capacities that are offered, to guarantee that they meet requirements, from the smallest ad hoc conference calls to large, company-wide virtual events.
Once the choice is made to deploy a technology to your extensive user base, training programmes and resources are vital to consider as they drive usage and adoption and enable the firm to maximise ROI.
Today’s security challenges are compounded by the introduction of new technologies, providing new opportunities for security threats. As such, companies will need to consider enterprise-grade security and encryption along with centralised IT administration to easily establish user permissions at either the individual or departmental level, ensuring the protection of valuable company data.
Furthermore, built-in network resiliency and fail-over ensures that your service will always be available with limited downtime.
Are you supported?
Irrespective of the provider, it’s certain that you will encounter issues that require customer support. For enterprises, it’s important to have access to a choice of support avenues, including live chat phone support, face-to-face and customer communities to meet the various needs of the organisation.
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Also, depending on your organisation’s size, you may need to consider the availability of global support – in terms of access points, network infrastructure and local-language support options.
Analyst firm Wainhouse Research found that more than half of web conferences start over 5 minutes late due to problems such as software download and installation delays, difficulty joining meetings, and missing materials or credentials. The loss of productivity and costs associated with these delays are incalculable.
These are very basic problems that can easily be resolved by simple planning. In addition, developing a “watertight” UC&C strategy that empowers workers with collaboration tools will go a long way to increase productivity, and help keep your business on track.