Make True Collaboration a Reality with UCC

The “office” is getting smaller, and the “workplace” is growing virtually limitless.  Employers need to find a way to keep their teams connected.

Offices don’t need to accommodate as many people as they did 10 years ago. The Workplace of the Future: a global market research report from Citrix explains that office space is decreasing in size, and office real estate as a whole may be as much as 17% smaller by 2020 than it was in 2010.  The reason: more knowledge workers are choosing to work remotely and are embracing mobile workstyles.

Mobility trends have a variety of benefits for employers, including lower real estate costs and an edge when recruiting talent, especially among younger workers that prefer the freedom to work remotely. There is one major challenge to overcome; however, employers must still find a way to enable their teams to work together.

While office space may be shrinking, the number of mobile devices knowledge workers use is growing. Each mobile worker currently uses on average almost six devices including smartphones, laptops, tablets and desktop computers to link to the corporate network.

The Solution: UCC

As the name implies, unified communications and collaboration (UCC) unifies all communications. UCC is more than video conferencing or conference calling. It provides your team with the ability to connect through phone, video screen sharing, always-on messaging, email and other collaboration tools. It allows your employees to access messages on any of the devices they are using — whether on the office desktop computer, a smartphone while traveling, or a laptop or tablet at home. UCC keeps your team connected to the information and applications they need to do their jobs — and connected to each other.

Keys to Making UCC Work

Nearly every knowledge worker has experienced the frustration caused by communication and collaboration tools that are less than unified. Employees using different applications can’t share calendar invitations, meetings are delayed when a team member struggles to call in or can’t enable video or audio, and remote team members can’t review the data the rest of the team can see when they can’t access a business application.

There are a few keys required for a successful UCC implementation, including:

  1. Integrate UCC into business practices. UCC isn’t just for remote workers or team members on the road. It’s for everyone. Look for a UCC platform that integrates with the business applications you’ve already invested in, such as Microsoft Exchange. Make UCC tools a part of the processes your team uses on a daily basis. Also, consider whether the UCC platform you are considering has an open API so you can develop your own applications or integrations to address specific needs.
  2. Equip remote workers with the tools they need. This is more than handing an employee a laptop. Make sure your workers are trained in how to use UCC tools to do their jobs most effectively and productively, wherever they are. This includes training on security best practices and BYOD policies.
  3. Enable true anytime, anywhere access. A cloud-based system will enable your employees to collaborate and access mission-critical information with any Internet-connected device. Cisco Spark , for example, allows subscribers to access all the features of their office workstations from any devices they choose, without having to download software. All Spark meetings have video capabilities, so members of your team don’t have to make special arrangements when they require video or screen sharing, and employees can switch between devices during conferences without having to log in and out, avoiding disrupting collaboration or workflows. Because users access Spark through the cloud, they never have to worry about software updates or patches — the software is always up to date and secure.

The ROI of a Truly Collaborative System

Consolidating communication and collaboration tools into one platform can significantly reduce infrastructure and maintenance costs, but the payoff in the form of efficiency and team productivity may prove to be even more valuable.

Evaluate your current communications and collaboration platforms and consider how UCC could enable your team to work faster and smarter to help you control costs and make the most of your resources.

Adam Davis, CEO, Next Dimension Inc.