Building Blocks of Effective Unified Communications

Monday, September 25, 2017

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Collaboration has become a pillar of daily business operations now that many organizations must support remote sites, mobile device fleets and traveling employees.

According to MarketsandMarkets, enterprise collaboration was a $26 billion market in 2016 and could surpass $49.5 billion in value by 2021. There are several key drivers of this rapidly growing demand for collaboration solutions:

  • Multiple devices per user: According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, 429 million mobile devices and connections were added worldwide in 2016, bringing the total to 8 billion. Almost all mobile network traffic comes from smartphones and tablets with at least a 3G cellular connection, which can perform essential tasks such as joining a video conference or sharing a file with collaborators.
  • Growing affinity for cloud-based services: The appeal of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) in particular has increased alongside a more general shift to cloud computing as the go-to source for IT infrastructure and business software.
  • New requirements for supporting workers and sites: Statistics gathered by Global Workplace Analytics revealed that many Fortune 1000 companies have been rethinking their operations and office designs now that workers are away from their desks more than half of the time. Effective collaboration tools are crucial to providing cutting-edge services such as online meetings, presence technology and VoIP telephony. These amenities make it easier for organizations to get positive returns on their remote offices and employees.

But what does it take to actually put a collaboration plan into action?

Blueprint for collaboration

Each organization will approach collaboration differently based on which particular components are best suited to its size, structure and specifications. But to make collaboration work, you need a combination of reliable infrastructures and experienced guidance to implement them.

Create a reliable infrastructure through unified communications

Staying in sync with everyone in your company requires access to a UC platform (such as Cisco Spark), which typically provides some or all of the following key features:

  • High-definition voice
  • Video and telepresence for conferencing
  • Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) tools such as Jabber
  • Online collaboration
  • Tight application integrations
  • Collaboration edge architecture (so that a virtual private network isn’t required)

The overall need for real-time communications has turned UC into a huge market. Grand View Research estimated that the entire sector would be worth more than $143 billion by 2024. Perhaps because of the widespread concern about security in UC — as well as a desire to customize each solution — on-premise deployments accounted for the bulk (60 percent) of all installations in 2015, although hosted UC is now growing more quickly.

Synergy Research Group reported that Cisco led the collaboration space in the final quarter of fiscal year 2015 after widening its lead over Microsoft in the sector. Cisco had 16 percent of the market in Q4 2015, while all collaboration vendors combined brought in over $9 billion in revenue during that quarter.

Implementing collaboration the right way

There are several significant pitfalls when setting up a new — or updating an existing — collaboration solution in your organization. One of the biggest potential problems is moving too fast and overlooking the need for proper design, testing and training. This approach can dampen user buy-in, jeopardizing the potential benefits of the platform.

Accordingly, it is advantageous to have hands-on professional guidance both during and after implementation, as there are still a lot of potential challenges in setting up a UC solution. For example, a Frost & Sullivan report found that cost (at 63 percent of the 302 companies it surveyed) was the most commonly cited roadblock to UC success, but that lack of expertise (31 percent) and issues with technical interoperability and integrations (29 percent) were also major concerns.

“Experience shows that the key to a successful implementation is having a complete understanding of the project, a well-defined project plan and a knowledgeable implementation partner,” explained Frost & Sullivan program manager Rob Arnold.

Ensure that your organization gets all three by finding a partner that can deliver the best available UC technology and proper integration with your existing IT systems. A modern UC platform is the ticket to successful collaboration and the peace of mind that employees can communicate with each other on-demand, without jeopardizing data security or struggling with bottlenecks across the network.

 

As a Cisco Master Collaboration Partner and experienced implementer of Cisco services, LaSalle is perfectly positioned to deliver and support the technologies your organization needs for effective communications. Learn more on our collaboration page and contact us directly with any questions or requests for more details.

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