The workplace is rapidly changing as younger, more digitally-conscious and ambitious talent come on board. For businesses to support these new employees and help them reach their full potential, they need to reconsider traditional ways of communication– doing as much as possible to lower the barriers to fluid teamwork and agile collaboration.
The strategies employed by businesses for their communications technology will play a crucial role in shaping the workforce of the future. Rather than overly focusing on any one technology, cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) integrates various communication tools within a business to enhance communication, collaboration and productivity in a single coherent environment. That may include merging voice calls, emails, instant messaging (IM) chats, video conferencing, multimedia files, data services and online transactions – all onto one platform run on the cloud.
As a model for integrating communication tools across the enterprise, cloud-based UC isn’t just beneficial for teams and departments, but also for business leaders, partners, vendors and customers. Here are five ways that organizations can be empowered by a cloud-based approach to UC:
Systematically integrating your communications technologies can reduce traditional barriers to real-time, always-available collaboration between employees. When applications like instant messaging, calendar updates, screen-sharing, audio and video conferencing are all located in a shared cloud, they become accessible to team members at any time, on any device – making collaboration far more seamless and responsive than before. Tools like persistent team messaging, for example, allow for both synchronous communications (like calls) and asynchronous ones (like voice or video messages), ensuring no idea or action gets lost within teams and meetings.
A cloud-based approach to UC also ensures consistency in data across all teams, minimising miscommunications that might otherwise slow down workflows. Bringing UC into the cloud eliminates many of the traditional frictions associated with collaboration, giving teams and employees a common and trusted platform to share and work with one another.
With 70% of people globally working remotely at least once a week, telecommuting is now the norm in many organizations. One of its greatest benefits to both employers and employees has been the increase in productivity from always-on access to files and data stored in the cloud, along with the increased redundancy that cloud-based hosting offers. Cloud-based UC solutions take this a step further by empowering users to meet, message and make calls at any time from any device, streamlining how they transition between different working environments like the home, office, or public spaces. A range of new technologies like facial recognition, direct calendar synchronisation and One Button to Push (OBTP) found in Cisco’s Webex Meetings, reduce the time and effort it takes to set up and conduct discussions to almost nil. That means employees can now stay connected, engaged and accountable even as they adopt a range of workplaces that maximise their personal effectiveness.
Reduce business costs
A cloud-based approach to UC can help maximise the potential of communications technologies to reduce business costs in the long run. A Stanford University study showed that with flexible working policies backed by robust communications technology environments, this travel agency in Shanghai saved $2,000 per employee on office space rent, with staff turnover rate decreasing by an astounding 50%. Cloud-based UC technologies build on these savings by reducing the raw OpEx costs of communication: IP-based telephony costs, for example, fall far below those of traditional landlines or roaming charges. The use of tools like persistent team messaging can also replace more costly mode of communication, such as cellular voice calls, with newer ones like asynchronous messaging that consume far less data and minimise disruptions in lower-connectivity areas.
Whilst every business has differing needs, goals, and priorities, one thing remains constant: the desire for growth. By introducing repeatable processes for deploying communications technologies and using them to connect, cloud-based UC can help businesses to scale globally across time zones and geographical locations, without them worrying about a breakdown in communication and workflow. A centralised UC cloud platform can be scaled up much more easily than a portfolio of separate UC technologies, with deployment to new locations or offices often as simple as pressing a button.
Successful leadership is a result of effective communication, and having the right communication tools will help leaders to constantly motivate, inspire and encourage their team. Managers can have quick one-on-ones, conduct weekly meetings or deliver timely feedback in a prompt yet also human manner, even across wide gaps in time-zone or location. Other technologies equip leaders to better understand and engage with their employees’ skills and personal goals. Cisco’s Cognitive Collaboration technology, for example, is equipped with a People Insights feature where hosts can quickly pull up profiles and learn more about their meeting participants, with details such as department, company, work experience and achievements to date. In today’s highly digitized world, a cloud-based UC framework equips employees with productive, powerful communications tools that both mirror and enhance what they already use outside the office, like VoIP calls and message-boards – allowing for much closer team dynamics and personal relationships to form, even via digital channels.
Whether you’re a start-up, a SMB or a large multinational, keeping your team connected in today’s work environment is crucial. Even as flexible and contingent work growing remote workforce can often feel the effects of isolation. Whilst the cloud has revolutionized other aspects of business, the same technology can provide tremendous flexibility, affordability and scalability to empower the modern workforce in the way we communicate with each other daily.