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Prioritize UCC tools to support a virtual workforce

When planning a rollout of new unified communications and collaboration tools, organizations must view their entire workforce as virtual even if it may not necessarily be the case.

More than half of knowledge workers routinely work from a remote location, typically from home or a satellite office, rather than a corporate office, according to a Frost & Sullivan survey of 406 IT decision makers that examined the impact of a virtual workforce on their UCC tools investment priorities.

Even employees who work from a traditional corporate location are virtual workers since the people they need to work with on a daily basis may not be in the same location, said Melanie Turek, vice president of research at Frost & Sullivan, in a recent webinar that examined the survey results.

The survey found that smartphones are the most common UCC endpoints, with 75% of IT decision makers currently using smartphones for business purposes. Nearly one-quarter of IT decision makers expect to use smartphones within the next three years.

Headsets, too, are becoming popular in organizations as more employees use conferencing tools.

“As we move forward with UCC, we’re finding more people need some way of keeping their hands free while working and participating in calls,” Turek said.

The survey found smartphones, instant messaging, headsets and conferencing services were the most important UCC tools for business productivity. This finding mirrored IT decision makers’ budget priorities. The survey found that IT leaders will prioritize smartphones, tablets, social media and collaboration technology in their 2016 and 2017 budgets.

To support the different UCC tools required for a virtual workforce, organizations are moving away from a single-vendor infrastructure. With so many tools available, Turek said, enterprises might struggle to maintain a single-vendor service that would meet everyone’s communication needs. Instead, organizations are looking to multi-vendor infrastructures that integrate the tools employees need.

But organizations planning to roll out new UCC tools must consider the business roles of their employees.

“Not everyone needs all these tools,” Turek said. Organizations should not approach UCC with company-wide deployments, but instead think about why they need a certain tool, what business goals the tools will help and who will benefit the most.