End users are embracing collaboration in new ways as they use multiple devices to complete their tasks, but they expect communication to flow seamlessly through all their devices as they work.
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These employee expectations reinforce the need for organizations to deploy unified communications and collaboration (UCC) technology that melds audio, video and web conferencing, messaging and presence, said Wainhouse Research analyst Bill Haskins in a recent webinar.
Organizations experience five stages of transformation as they deploy and expand UCC technology investments, Haskins said.
Stage one is the siloed organization. At this stage, organizations are still relying on analog technology, such as TDM, and have yet to transition to VoIP. Individual teams within the organization may be bringing in their own collaboration tools, but the organization has no official collaboration strategy.
Organizations that want to move to the next stage should evaluate any costly and outdated technology and identify how IP services can improve collaboration.
Stage two is the enhanced enterprise. Enterprises have started the transition to IP technology, and collaboration tools, such as instant messaging and presence, emerge across the organization. However, the collaboration tools lack integration.
To move to the next stage, enterprises should consider where integration makes sense and focus on teams that exhibit good collaboration habits for others to model.
Stage three is the integrated enterprise. UCC technology is becoming increasingly integrated as organizations look to introduce tools like room-based video conferencing onto users’ desktops. Organizations start to embrace more distributed teams and expand their employee recruiting efforts.
The next step for integrated enterprises is to evaluate UCC vendors to find which one could provide a platform with a consolidated and consistent user experience.
Stage four is the unified enterprise. Users have migrated to a single UCC platform for all their collaboration tools. The strategy around collaboration shifts from cost savings to productivity.
Next, an enterprise should look at workflows that can be empowered with communications. Also, look for partners that offer API expertise, line-of-business integration and the development of skill sets.
Stage five is the transformed enterprise. Organizations are transforming workflows with integrated communications. But enterprises at this stage still have work to do. They must keep up to date on UCC technology advancements. The cloud is key for enterprises, in this case, as it alleviates UCC management burdens.
There is a three-step process for organizations as they move through these stages of deploying UCC technology, said Peter Quinlan, vice president of UCC product management at Tata Communications, which sponsored the webinar.
The first step is to focus on the areas that have the greatest impact. These are areas that would make the biggest difference for your users and your business. Organizations should also address major collaboration pain points.
The second step is to plan what comes next. Users can only handle so much change, Quinlan said, so there is a lot of risk in replacing everything at once.
Step three is to ensure the success of each individual project. Organizations should make sure each collaboration project achieves ROI and delivers benefits in the form of capabilities, features, productivity and user experience. Every upgrade should build on what came before and allow for future expansion.