A business is not an island. Businesses must be in constant communication with customers, clients, vendors, contractors, employees, partners, and more — which means businesses need comprehensive communications systems. At the beginning of the decade, communications providers began offering unified communications solutions, which brought together voice, video, instant messaging, email, and other methods into a single, synchronous service. It was a much-needed revolution in business communication.
Yet, since then, communication behavior has shifted. Technology is dramatically more advanced, and workforces are overwhelmingly mobile; traditional unified services simply no longer cover modern business communication needs.
Fortunately, this isn’t the end of unified communications solutions. The industry is shifting alongside business and consumer behavior. Read on to learn more about the future of unified communications.
Since their introduction, mobile devices have taken over the workplace. Many employers offer company mobile devices to high-ranking leaders, so they can stay connected wherever they go. Other employees have taken the initiative to gather their own mobile tech. At last count, more than 42 percent of organizations are executing a BYOD policy, but 87 percent of companies believe their employees use personal devices for work while away from the office.
Like it or not, the workplace is going mobile — and communications needs to keep up. The unified communications solutions of the future must integrate the gamut of mobile devices to be effective at uniting a workforce’s communications systems. Cisco Unified Communications Systems already allows mobile devices to access the corporate network, so businesses that place a high priority on mobile integration should consider transitioning to this progressive unified communications provider.
The cloud is spreading into every corner of business, so it should be no surprise that unified communications has caught a whiff. Most unified communications providers offer a bevy of cloud solutions — but not all of them are valuable to all businesses.
For example, startups might benefit from fully cloud-based communications, in which case it is critical that unified communications remain compatible with other business applications, like customer relationship management solutions. Meanwhile, larger enterprises with established unified communications might prefer cloud communications features that officer enhanced agility.
For businesses that have yet to connect to the cloud, unified communication systems offer an accessible entry point. As long as business leaders find trustworthy communications providers with strong, secure clouds, there is little risk in trusting the cloud for communications solutions. In fact, the cloud could be the only communications tool of the future.
Because the workforce is more mobile than ever before and because the cloud makes digital solutions simple, collaboration tools have become vital for bringing teams together to accomplish tasks. Applications like Google Docs and Slack make it easier to organize projects, brainstorm, and carry out responsibilities in groups, but without broader, more flexible communications solutions, collaboration can still be a chore.
Thus, unified communications solutions must provide collaboration options — or else be compatible with an organization’s existing collaboration systems. Already, some communications providers offer UCC, or unified communications and collaboration, which is software designed to coordinate collaborative efforts and communication tech. However, it is vital that business leaders understand the resources required by UCC solutions before attempting to add them to their communications infrastructure. UCC can place extreme stress on aging networks, causing latency, lag, and sometimes network failure. UCC might be the future, but to reach that future, some organizations might need to update other aspects of their tech architecture.
Scalability has long been an important issue associated with unified communications. However, now that the economy is booming and businesses are growing, it is especially critical that organizations equip themselves with communications solutions that will continue to serve them as they expand.
Unfortunately, many business leaders harbor misconceptions regarding scalability and unified communications. For example, plenty of leaders assume that all communications solutions are infinitely scalable. This is only true in theory; in practice, most systems have upper limits on the number of devices they can service. Businesses that invest in a solution without knowing those limits will either suffer downtime or waste money upgrading to a new system in the near future.
Any time a business considers a new solution, it must balance its current needs with its future projections. In the case of unified communications, this is especially true. The future of unified communications is upon us, and businesses should be ready to build bridges to these necessary technologies — or perish, alone, on their deserted islands.
Jackie is a content coordinator and contributor that creates quality articles for topics like technology, business, home life, and education. She studied business management and is continually building positive relationships with other publishers and the internet community .