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What's More Important Than Obtaining Mobile UC? Using It Properly

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IP communications are not always supposed to be part and parcel replacements for existing systems. Changing telecom infrastructures are the result of evolving consumer technology. People prefer to work on a single device these days -- preferably something mobile like a tablet or smartphone. Thanks to the cloud, smartphones and tablets, it is possible to complete tasks from anywhere, which allows businesses to be more agile and flexible in their scheduling.

But technology alone does not make a modern company. While unified communications (UC) solutions are supposed to be simple, this does not mean that everyone is going to get it in an instant without some sort of assistance. Employees have to be a part of the deployment process, from selecting a tool to being instructed on how it can benefit their productivity.

"Despite companies' investment in new conferencing and collaboration technologies (with the best of intentions), many of these resources go unused by the employees they were intended to support," wrote InformationWeek contributor Erika Van Noort. "However, there are steps that business and IT leaders can take to salvage their UC investments and jump-start user adoption. UC training -- or rather a usage and adoption program -- can make all the difference when thoughtfully planned and executed."

Implementing mobile UC more often than not means upending company culture in some way. Not only do modern telecom networks change the platforms that people use to connect and collaborate, but they also alter how people communicate, period. Face-to-face meetings no longer require in-person proximity, and juggling multiple channels across various machines becomes a problem of the past. This allows people to feel as though they are focused on the person rather than the medium they choose to interact through. Though many employees may have found success with consumer IT outside of the workplace, they will need to be briefed and involved with any potential changes that may occur in enterprise settings.

More Companies Investing In UC

The number of investments being made in mobile-friendly UC is growing -- and is expected to continue doing so over the next few years. According to Research and Markets, the global market worth for UC solutions will likely climb to $17.38 billion by 2019. This is indicative of the increasing popularity that mobile communications systems are experiencing and the significant evolutions in technology that have occurred over the last few years.

But not every one of the organizations that are putting mobile UC in place are getting it exactly right. Technology is impressive, but it is not magic. A deployment does not guarantee overall business success, which is why companies need to do everything in their power to make sure that everything goes smoothly.

According to the U.K. website Computing, one area of business that is suffering from failed UC deployments is the supply chain. A recent survey conducted by the publication found that mobile unified communications assets were primarily being deployed within the physical workplace rather than remotely. This is forcing businesses to lose countless hours and dollars that were trying to be saved by implementing mobile UC in the first place.

"If companies took the principles they apply to their salesforce and apply it to their supply chain then it could help with timescales," said Dimension Data's Mark Grant at a recent panel held by Computing. "If you think about problems with certain products, these can be found earlier on in the timeline and you can use [UC] technology to help notify other parts of the supply chain."

One of the most important ways this kind of scenario can be avoided is by keeping staffers on the same page rather than waiting for a big reveal on the day everything is ready to use. Workers need to be made aware of the significant advantages that come with mobile UC and how it can be used to improve productivity and workflow.

Training, Employee Considerations Essential

Workers are the most important consideration to make when implementing UC. This starts with evaluating the needs of employees around the office. What do they struggle with? How do they prefer to work? Answering these questions is important because, as Van Noort pointed out, not all users are the same. This is critical to consider as it can affect what systems are put into place as well as how workers are trained on new technology.

"Companies that stick to one training delivery method may unintentionally exclude many of their employees," Van Noort wrote. "A successful usage and adoption program offers the curriculum in multiple formats, from in-person group sessions to one-on-one desk meetings, or even digital FAQs on the corporate intranet. When applicable, customize the training per job function or department. Marketing may have different use-cases for a new collaboration tool than finance or operations."

Nothing can spoil a UC deployment like an under-considered workforce. UC networks can be implemented in every office around the world, but there is no guarantee that staffers are going to take to them right away - if at all. Adoption rates can be maximized by making sure that everyone understands what is being done and how it will benefit them. This is an important step in avoiding failure with UC.

The Importance Of Mobile Unified Communications

Modern organizations have to be agile to succeed. The consumerization of technology has upped the ante for businesses around the world, forcing them to adopt new IT assets that will help them increase responsiveness. Both customers and professionals alike are expecting this from businesses, and mobile UC is one of the best ways to unlock it.

But this should not push organizations into making any rush decisions. Deployments must be calculated and purposeful. This means making staffers part of the implementation, as they will be the ones using the system the most. Businesses now require mobile (UC) to compete at a higher level, but obtaining and properly making any new solutions available to employees will take time and effort.