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As IT departments contemplate the future of their full-time or hybrid work-from-home strategies, the topic of optimal unified communications often bubbles to the top of the conversation. The need for constant and efficient communications, no matter where end users are located, has never been more important. The current go-to technology that can accomplish this goal is mobile unified communications.
Mobile UC is an extension of traditional UC tools and functionality with the added advantage of portability to enable users to take their business communications anywhere. The technology also enables users to manage portions of their UC experience themselves through a self-service portal. Lastly, mobile UC is built to enable users to seamlessly move from one UC application or device to the next.
Midsize to large enterprises with legacy UC platforms have likely dabbled in mobile UC -- often without even realizing it. In many cases, end users are given the ability to use chat-based software and softphone applications while working remotely with a PC or mobile device. But access to these UC services outside the office often requires connecting to the corporate network with remote access VPN software. Once connected, the user can then use software-based UC tools to access services managed within private data centers.
A growing trend to further simplify access to UC services is to eliminate the need for users to remotely connect to the corporate network in the first place. Instead, access to UC services can be made accessible directly at the corporate internet edge or via a public cloud UC service. In either case, it enables seamless access to tools for all users, regardless of where they're connecting from.
Current state of the mobile unified communications market
UC tools traditionally have a much longer lifespan than other infrastructure technologies, so many businesses still maintain fully on-premises UC architectures that are not nearly as mobile-friendly. But, from a market perspective, mobile UC platforms for both hybrid and fully SaaS-based architectures have been around for years. This means that most enterprise-grade mobile UC services have matured to the point where they're not only secure, reliable and scalable, but they are also as feature-rich as on-premises alternatives.
Many UC vendors have hybrid offerings that integrate with existing deployments, which enables organizations with heavy investments in their current platforms to support mobility at a fraction of the cost of a rip-and-replace project. But, if a current UC platform is long in the tooth and ready for a complete refresh, now would be the perfect time to look at UC-as-a-service alternatives.
Hybrid systems often require users to connect back to the corporate network without the need for VPN software. But the problem with this setup is that geographically dispersed users -- far from the corporate data center -- may end up with a poor UC experience due to network latency incurred when sending data over long distances. Most enterprise-grade SaaS offerings, on the other hand, tend to be deployed across globally distributed cloud data centers to mitigate latency issues.
Remote work requires accessible and uniform communication
Regardless of whether IT plans for employees to return to the office, work fully remotely or a combination of the two, providing a consistent UC experience, no matter the operating environment, is more important than ever. The days of simply assuming all employees will be able to interact in a face-to-face manner is no longer relevant for the foreseeable future. Thus, they now require tools that can operate without being tethered to the corporate network and provide the utmost in data security. The great news is: There are plenty of mobile unified communications options available that are easy to integrate, no matter the current state of an organization's enterprise UC architecture.