Connecting People for a Greater Workplace

Michael Helmbrecht, Chief Product and Operations Officer, LifeSize Communications
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Michael Helmbrecht, Chief Product and Operations Officer, LifeSize Communications

Gartner’s 2016 CIO Agenda Report found that nearly 40 percent of CIOs consider themselves the leaders of digital transformation in their enterprise, and 34 percent are the innovation leaders. These are certainly daunting responsibilities; however, they present a number of opportunities. When it comes to improving business performance, collaboration–and easy, open, fluid communication–is critical. As it relates to the enterprise, we’re seeing the convergence of three notable trends. 

  ​Luckily for CIOs, the UCaaS model is hassle-free compared to an onsite deployment, as cloud solutions are much more ‘IT Friendly  

• First, the prevalence of Facetime, texting and chat on personal devices means that employees expect collaboration–and instant communication–to be ubiquitous and easy-to-use at work as well.
• Second, employees expect the way they work to be flexible and unconstrained by geographic boundaries. They want to talk with colleagues, regardless of which office, which time zone, and what device they may be working on.
• Third, CIOs want to address these work-from-wherever connect-across-everything demands, within the fiscal and practical realities of managing their operations.  

Luckily for CIOs, unified communications can help meet all of these needs and functional expectations. Plus, UCaaS technology has evolved to provide a solution with a fraction of the complexity seen even just a few years ago.  

Consumer Apps Pave the Way for UCaaS: 

It’s often the case that employees bring applications that are aimed at the consumer market into the workplace. Because of their popularity–and employees’ advocacy–it’s common for IT teams to conduct trials to test these apps’ viability within their organization. We all know how these exercises end. 

While there are a number of consumer-focused applications that claim to be appropriate for the business user, it’s rare to find one that adequately delivers on its promises. More often than not, businesses eventually realize that these tools aren’t appropriate for work: the functionality isn’t scalable; it’s not fully reliable, or the vendor’s not equipped to support enterprise-level demands.  

Evolving Beyond the Consumer App: 

“Collaboration” encapsulates a number of different means of communication. Whether it’s audio or video conferencing, chat, web conferencing, screen or file sharing, companies are spending thousands to keep up with the ever evolving platforms for collaboration, all of which serve different purposes, but are necessary to meet business needs.  

It’s the CIO and their IT team’s responsibility to rollout services as interoperable as possible, ideally they can find a balance that meets end users’ priorities without creating technology silos for themselves.  

Accommodating a flexible workforce is simply impossible with an on premise infrastructure, in fact, UCaaS vendors make a significant investment in their underlying network infrastructure, which results in a more resilient and secure environment than consumer apps or what companies may have in their own on premise environment. 

CIOs are focused on lowering their costs, however simply renewing a standalone vendor contract for a discount will no longer suffice. That doesn’t bring the benefits of increased productivity to the table which IT leaders are also looking for; and specifically, UCaaS can offer a lot more value, a rich collaboration experience and at a very competitive price point. 

Collaboration across all Devices and Conference Rooms: 

Employees demand access to collaboration tools that accommodate their individual working preferences and support the concept of an agile workforce. As a result, anytime, anywhere communication from any device, is a prerequisite for success.  

To address this, CIOs want to provide collaboration services that operate across communication modalities and devices. In reality, however, they don't want multiple tools–or vendors–to manage. Instead, CIOs want to consolidate systems and vendors into a simple, integrated platform that removes the need for multiple applications and passwords and supports remote workers to share and record information.  

Luckily, some conferencing and UCaaS technology has evolved to the point where CIOs don’t need to compromise. They can say goodbye to disparate solutions and adopt consolidated, cloud-based delivery models for their meeting rooms and boardrooms that can be extended to individuals on the device of their choice.  

Collaboration without Caveats:  

The UC market has matured considerably, and as a result, the UCaaS delivery model has given rise to a key trend in the cloud collaboration space. The consolidation and convergence of meeting and communications platforms into one simple integrated and scalable solution is highly desirable. Luckily for CIOs, the UCaaS model is hassle-free compared to an onsite deployment, as cloud solutions are much more ‘IT Friendly’–with quick set-up, low costs, centralized management and improved efficiency. 

Surprisingly, experts predict that video will become a ubiquitous communication form in 2016, as teams recognize that it’s more effective for collaboration, and isn’t complicated to use. In fact, video can now be integrated into robust and cost-effective UCaaS platforms, and easily deployed to support all employees across the enterprise, anywhere in the world, using any device.  

For operations that span the globe, the vital face time employees depend on will occur more readily over video than in person. Businesses will focus more on streamlining travel, cutting costs and reducing CO2 emissions–all at the same time as making ad-hoc communications more connected. Even HR teams are beginning to see the value of video tools to conduct their interviews, implement training initiatives and better engage their remote workers. 

To achieve a truly flexible and future-proof approach to communication and collaboration, CIOs must leverage a cloud-based platform. The good news is it can be a lot less painful than they expect.

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