Is Unified Communications Worth the Effort?

-by Dave Casey, Regional Vice President, Peak Up Time

Pick up any periodical; monitor any blog and you will hear tale of the power of Unified Communications and how organizations galore are basking in a connected world. But is this fact or fiction?

For decades, business has progressively sought quicker, more direct and effective ways to communicate both internally and externally. Not to show my age, but I grew up in the world of receptionists, large mail rooms, and pink message slips. We just knew we were cutting edge. This gave way to fax machines, WordPerfect on our desktops, and DID (Direct Inward Dial) where incoming calls were automatically routed direct to my desk phone, bypassing the receptionist and my admin. Great to start with; quickly a security hole where all sorts of folks were ringing me up direct. Yuck! Not a fan of too much communication.

Fast forward to 2016, where the mantra is a Unified, Global, Universal world where we are all peers communicating via phone, email, text, mobile, video, social media, and groupware (Slack,Yammer). We even use text-to-speech and speech-to-text as we are too lazy to listen to our voicemails. Are we gaining ground or has the noise level risen to where little is accomplished while we are bombarded with information? My friend Heather Clancy opines on the social aspect in her Fortune column today:

At Peak, we tend to act in an advisory role with clients and strive to match their defined business processes with the available technology. A key component is providing just the right amount of unified connectivity for each role or usage model. For example, a call center agent needs telephony, text, and perhaps point to point video to serve the client, but should not receive incoming personal calls, extraneous emails, or be ordering shoes on Zappos at their desk. Access control is still a valid term.

I recently rented a car using a kiosk at the rental call center. Great experience! While others formed a line in front of a harried counterperson, I had a quick video call with a pleasant an efficient agent in a far city and was behind the wheel in a snap. We had a data, video, and audio conversation. My paperwork was delivered to my phone while I strolled to the car. I brought up a QR code which was quickly scanned as I reached the gate. Effective use of technology….

There are myriad UC systems available today with varied capability and market acceptance. Two characteristics define the winners; simplicity in function, and tight integration to application platforms.

The best technology, poorly delivered and overly complicated, will be swiftly be rejected by the user community. There is a reason iPhones triumph over technically superior and far less expensive competing devices. Simple. Intuitive. Bulletproof.

Saw this first hand on a UC rollout several years ago. At the time Blackberry and Nokia ruled the corporate mobile market with Motorola close behind. As we trained users in the use of their mobile client app, the universal question from executives (not sales or engineering) was “When can I use my iPhone to connect?” Each had a company phone (Blackberry) in one pocket, and a personal iPhone in the other. That is when I predicted Apple would win. (And I was smart enough to purchase a few shares).

Application integration is where a properly implemented UC system can leverage the incredible sums spent on Enterprise ERP, CRM, and integrated databases. Information is delivered directly to stakeholders at their desk, on the road, at home, and unfortunately even on vacation. The flip side is delivering a flawless presentation to your best client via desktop sharing from your tablet whilst standing on the sidelines at the youth soccer game. With your boss and team conferenced in. We have seen corporations win “Best Place to Work” rankings due to employees’ appreciation of technology to enable them to work anywhere.

So UC is worth the effort when properly designed and implemented. It may require some open minded analysis as the company’s current providers often may not be the best choice for a UC rollout. And some folks will have to think ahead….

At Peak UpTime, our goal is to help you elevate the IT conversation to address business challenges. We identify innovative IT solutions to help you effectively serve your clients, and leverage technology to keep your teams operating efficiently.

Celebrating our 30th anniversary in business in 2013, Peak has experienced growth and change in IT technology, but never wavered in its passion for serving our clients. Our history of serving clients and their corresponding reference, our strong financial position and capable, skilled team make Peak your natural choice to support your IT infrastructure.