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'CASIM' Influencing UC Adoptions

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Why do businesses need unified communications (UC)? This is not an easy question for many companies to answer. There are some people who believe that this sort of investment is frivolous, but this notion is fueled by the idea that UC networks are basically just part and parcel replacements for existing telecom systems. The truth is that just making multiple channels available is no longer enough anymore if they are siloed and lack cohesion. There has to be a single interface through which employees can collaborate and connect with their colleagues -- especially from remote locations.

"UC will no more be just about an IP phone, or a soft client, or just email and presence," said Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Harsh Upadhyay. "It will now be a business communication suite which integrates convergence, interoperability, security and dependability with collaboration. Collaborative suites will be further enhanced to deliver business outcomes, as this would be the key consideration of CXOs prior to deploying any communication suite."

But this still does not really answer the question of "why." What are the major drivers that are fueling growing UC adoptions? According to recent research from Frost & Sullivan, there are actually five different factors that are driving modern telecom investments: cloud computing, big data analytics, social media, the Internet of Things and mobility. Collectively, these factors are known as "CASIM." Frost & Sullivan believes that continued growth in these five areas will point in a single direction -- the broader, widespread implementation of UC for the enterprise in 2015.

Mobility, Cloud Expanding The Reach Of The Office

Consumer-grade IT has made some incredible strides within the last couple of years. Smartphone, tablet and laptop users have experienced a boon in connectivity that has provided them with the ability to accomplish more tasks from anywhere that has a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. Whether trying to keep traveling sales people in the loop or just allow an employee to stay at home with a sick kid without missing work, mobile-ready assets -- namely cloud UC - are proving to be powerful tools.

The benefits here are increasingly obvious when discussing remote connectivity, but this is only a part of the picture. In-office interactions can also be improved upon significantly with UC. Being instantly reachable via mobile devices from anywhere in the building allows for greater levels of multi-tasking and helps employees to keep up the daily pace.

"The increased number of connected devices, mobile workforce, user preferences, and focus on increased productivity are few of the many reasons that make mobility and bring-your-own-device acceptance is imperative for the organizations," Frost & Sullivan stated. "Sales people want their corporate phones on their mobile, even when they are roaming. A disparate need across the various working profiles will push UC solutions to be available on all devices as apps."

But opting for cloud UC is not just an issue of improved functionality. Cloud-based delivery is helping to provide significant cost savings that would otherwise be impossible with an on-site solution. Going for the hosted option not only means a faster, more streamlined deployment, but it also represents the elimination of upkeep and maintenance spending. The client company pays only for the service, meaning that they do not have to worry about footing the bill if something breaks down or has to be upgraded.

Big Data, Social Media Engagement Mean Increased Dividends

Modern UC solutions are not just about improving the flow of communication and collaboration. Because these systems are software-based, it is much easier for them to be integrated with big data-minded applications. Information can be collected from interactions that occur over channels like instant message and voice and then easily recalled later when it can be of use. This kind of functionality helps to improve daily operations in such a way that will increase profit margins for the organization in significant ways.

According to TMCnet contributor Casey Houser, this is particularly true for the contact center. Being able to have access to valuable customer information in the same interface as communication channels is a huge boost for productivity. Including social media in that equation can have an even bigger impact.

"Not only will agents be able to see what their customers prefer by leveraging their social media presences, they will be able to respond to them through those channels or in conjunction with those channels," Houser wrote. "For instance, agents may use Twitter to respond to a customer's Twitter account, or they may use email to respond to that same user account. Cross-channel communication will be in full swing."

CASIM: The Most Important Acronym To Remember

When talking about enterprise communications, a great deal of acronyms tend to pop up. From SIP to VoIP to UC, carefully arranged letters are meant to convey a great deal of technological advantages. But the one set of characters that's behind them all is CASIM. There are plenty of reasons why UC should be implemented, and almost all of them have to do with mobility, cloud, the IoT, big data and social media. These are the five areas where the most growth is happening, and the result is a clearer picture of what UC can do for the enterprises that adopt it.

"With the right UC product, a smartphone, tablet, or laptop could easily become an all-in-one workstation that allows access to business apps and communications platforms from any location," Houser stated. "UC is definitely a priority for enterprises as it always has been, and technological progress on the market this year, above all others, should make it even easier for them to realize their dreams of a completely connected work environment."

In 2015, it will be critical to keep all of the components of CASIM at the top of the priority list for enterprise planning. There is an untold number of people who have experienced the power of things like the cloud and UC, and as a result more businesses are figuring out how best to implement them within their offices. As more companies begin to follow these sorts of strategies, it will be important for their contemporaries to keep up.