The term UC&C, unified communications and collaboration, is bandied around organisations globally. The UC&C technology sector is on the rise too, and it’s justified. Organisations are investing approximately $8.1 million in these technologies and services. The spend is often worth it too. Companies using such tools are highly productive. Those with effective internal communications achieve 47% higher returns for shareholders, making communication technology highly sought after and valuable.
Failure to promote effective communication and collaboration internally is expensive. Around $37 billion is lost annually because of employee misunderstandings and poor communication. To illustrate the impact on productivity, in a business of 100 employees, 17 hours a week – on average – is spent seeking clarification, resulting from misguided communication. Investing in technology, such as UC&C therefore, becomes critical and enables firms to take a proactive and strategic approach to improving their organisational communication.
In addition, today’s technologically-literate, modern employee expects these organisations to supply more than basic traditional collaboration (e.g. conference calling). They want integration with other communication channels too. This might include, for example, voice, video, chat or audio.
IT and business leaders face the pressure of providing staff access to these various collaborative technologies so that organisational productivity and efficiency can be enhanced through effective communication. So, as they do this, what should they consider when they develop their UC&C strategy?
Choosing a UC&C technology ally
When organisations develop their UC&C strategy, they need to ensure it is capable of meeting the organisation’s needs, scale and reach. The following key points could guide the decision-making process:
- Define the business communication needs: Ask: What is my organisation’s unique collaboration mix? What technology does my organisation need? What type of business do I work for? How do we work? What is expected of our industry? Is our staff virtual or office-based? Is the team made-up of Gen-Xers, baby boomers, millennials? These factors are important and once you have a view on what this looks like, then you can build a UC&C strategy and business case based on reliable information.
- Do the homework about your supplier: What is their history? Do they have a positive reputation? Will they provide customer references? These are important considerations. While there are many collaboration technology start-ups popping up, few are truly equipped to support the collaboration needs of the largest global corporations. So, check how many large companies they have supported and whether or not their deployments have been successful.
- Conferencing that scales: For large enterprises, demonstrating the capabilities to support thousands of employees at any given time becomes crucial, both in terms of simultaneous users and simultaneous meetings on your technology provider’s network. Carefully evaluate whether a vendor’s capabilities meet the needs of your company, based on your size and scale requirements. Can they accommodate the smallest ad hoc conference calls as well as large, company-wide events?
In addition, once the decision is made to deploy a technology to your extensive user base, training programmes and resources become paramount to driving usage and adoption to maximise ROI.
- Security, security, security: People disclose highly confidential company information on their conference calls daily, making these channels ripe for cyber-criminals. Technology teams, therefore, need to ensure that their conferencing tools are secure and resilient. Enterprise-grade security and encryption along with centralised IT administration allow organisations to establish user permissions at the individual or departmental levels, ensuring valuable company data is protected. Resiliency is crucial too as this ensures service will always be available for UC, Unified Communications, Unified Communication, UComs, UC&Ccritical meetings
- Support Structure: Once all the due diligence has been considered, regardless of the strength of a provider’s network infrastructure and resiliency, firms will usually experience minor complaints that will need customer support. Does your provider offer sufficient support for this? For enterprises, it’s essential to have access to multiple support avenues, including in-meeting support, live chat, phone support and customer communities
Additionally, due to the reach of multi-national corporations, global support – in terms of network infrastructure, access points, dial-in numbers and local-language support options – is a must have. Is this offered?
Analysts at Wainhouse Research say that over 50 percent of web conference meetings start more than 5 minutes late. Delays are attributed to technical difficulties; software download/install delays; difficulty joining meetings; and missing materials/credentials. The firm believes the cost of these delays, in terms of salary and lost opportunity, is incalculable. Within the enterprise, where technology is bought, adopted and used at scale, every productive second that is lost or gained makes an impact. So, IT teams must ask themselves: is your business communicating and using UC&C effectively?
Guest Blog by Lyndsay Cook, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Demand Generation at PGi