David Goodwin, Managing Partner & Co-Founder,
Advanced Technology Consulting, Inc. dba ATC
First, let’s lay a little groundwork. On a business level, three important benefits of the cloud stand out to support a move to unified communications as a service (UCaas):
- The software as a service (SaaS) model is proven: Most businesses are already using cloud-based software applications more than they think, with common examples being Salesforce for customer relationship management (CRM) or hosted email. The scale, reliability and performance of the SaaS model have reached the point where communications platforms can effectively be hosted, even for real-time modes such as voice. This trend will continue as costs keep declining and as private cloud adoption increases.
- Improved agility: Full-scale unified communications (UC) is far more complex than voice over internet protocol (VoIP), and the do-more-with-less mantra that most IT departments face is only going to continue. Not only does IT have to juggle shifting priorities, but securing new budgets is getting harder, especially for capital expenditure initiatives. Despite all this, agility has become a corporate mantra, as businesses must be more responsive, not just for customer satisfaction, but also for adapting to changing requirements. For employees to make the business more agile, business processes must flow smoothly and communication needs to be seamless. Both of these requirements are well-served by UC, but its complex nature poses a challenge to IT departments and has been a barrier to adoption.
- Employee productivity: The third key benefit that cloud-based unified communications provides is speed and ease of deployment. Not only does UCaaS make life easier for IT, but the business becomes more agile as employees now have the tools to work more productively.
By nature, UCaaS providers are focused on keeping their offerings current, something an IT department would be hard-pressed to do if going with premises-based UC. On a business level, the cloud provides ongoing value by enabling productivity with the latest applications at all times.
“Can you believe that what was once viewed as a necessary evil and an overhead expense — the business phone system — has now evolved into an irreplaceable productivity and collaboration tool?”
Today’s mobile workforce expects easy access from varied devices for communication, collaboration and productivity tools. Fortunately, today’s Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) providers offer up an integrated solution for this on one telephony platform. Voice, video and Web conferencing, presence, instant messaging, CRM integration, desktop sharing, one-to-one video from handset to handset, email integration, emergency response notifications, text, fax and sometimes more… all bundled into one service and hosted in the cloud.
Can you believe that what was once viewed as a necessary evil and an overhead expense — the business phone system — has now evolved into an irreplaceable productivity and collaboration tool? With the advent of VoIP, and now UCaaS, your phone system can integrate way more, but may not even include any new on-premise equipment.
Often, I see business leaders and IT executives enter the buyer journey for a new phone system with little-to-no interest in how it might help their business. Remember… necessary evil. Then, to top it all off, they want to go lean on their bandwidth too. Why any business leader would go skimpy on communications and Internet in today’s connectivity and cloud-dependent business environment is difficult to understand.
There are many steps that lead to successful deployment. And, by deployment, I don’t simply mean, “it works.” I mean it works as the business-enabling tool it was intended to be, and it is fully utilized by your workforce.
Here are 3 key considerations to make that happen:
- Assessment: Understand your core needs. Learn about the technology possibilities that exist with UCaaS and cloud communications. Talk to each department within the organization and challenge them to break the mold and think about what could be, not the way it’s always been.
- Network, Network, Network: Understand your network. Inventory your systems and their inherent demands on the network. Plan for plenty of computing capacity. Data consumption is exploding and will only continue to rise for the foreseeable future. Understand your perimeter and the new access points created. Build in network security and redundancy.
- Train: Plain and simple…make training on your new system mandatory. No excuses. Too often, I see “skipped” training sessions and a lack of engagement. This “mandatory” must come from the top down to promote widespread buy-in and engagement in the process. The “skippers” (not defined as the leaders in this case) invariably contend the new system doesn’t work. Oh, it works (provided it was implemented correctly) … they just don’t know how to use it.
Regardless of your workforces’ demographic makeup, but especially with the younger generations, make them mobile. Make it easy. Make it collaborative. And, of course, for your protection, make it secure. They will all be happy when they are enabled, connected, collaborative and productive.
This falls directly in line with the Goering Center’s Core Member Breakfast topic: “Going Mobile: Build a 21st Century Workforce that Really Works.”
David Goodwin is speaking as a panelist at Going Mobile” on March 15th, 2017 at Sharonville Convention Center.