Today’s workforce is an increasingly mobile workforce.
Rather than just being stationed at a fixed office desk, it’s increasingly common for people to work from different locations.
Without a permanent workstation, mobile workforces are even more reliant than ever on technology for essential communications including i) workflow tasks ii) information exchange with headquarters, regional offices and management iii) collaborating with customers, co-workers and perhaps equally-mobile colleagues.
Overcoming the challenges
With these three needs in mind, it’s not surprising that the two most prevalent challenges faced by mobile workers are lack of information from senior management (38%) and timeliness of information (39%). It’s why, technologies such as audio conferencing, video conferencing, and many more, continue to emerge to overcome these challenges, and enabling mobile communication to be as effective as face-to-face communication.
Among all the options, Unified Communications (UC) has established itself as a mature and reliable solution for mobile workforces. In essence, UC means one single platform: one which integrates several fundamental features of modern communication technology including instant messaging, voice calls, audio and video conferencing, data and file sharing, screen sharing, and more.
In short, it allows all members within an organization to communicate and share ideas without being limited by distance and format.
A peer-to-peer revolution
The emergence of UC has been spurred by the quick advancement of social media and messaging technologies in the consumer space. Peer-to-peer collaboration has been revolutionized thanks to the rise of instant content sharing, seamless video calls, and conferencing.
It’s in keeping with a report which found that 74% of the workforce consider communication apps to be essential to their work – and McKinsey’s prediction that the adoption of social communication technologies could help companies improve productivity by 20 to 25%.
Overcoming confusion and uncertainty
Yet, whilst UC and new communication apps have changed the landscape of peer collaboration, most companies still rely on old-fashioned methods to broadcast company-wide news and information.
Yet, in one HR-focused survey, 55% of workers felt that communications from senior management tended to be unclear and lacking in detail. It’s all too easy for such lack of clarity and/or ambiguity in company-wide communications to create confusion and uncertainty among employees, with inevitable negative impact on morale and therefore productivity.
It’s why the tangible benefits of UC can only truly be gained if senior management ensure its proper adoption and use in company-wide communications.
Five considerations for your UC strategy
Given its importance in enabling seamless business communications, Unified Communications is now a necessity in modern organizations – especially where there is an increasingly mobile workforce. If you’re looking to move your organization forward with a UC strategy, then do take the following five points into consideration.
1. Identify the needs
Review your existing internal communication strategy or establish a new one. The point here is to clearly identify the communication needs and processes of each business unit. These needs can easily be overlooked if you only considering a few of your user groups’ business requirements. It’s equally important to take a 360-degree view of the organization to include all functions and knowledge workers. Use of UC can be completely different between, say, Sales and Operations – which is fine – yet when they have to communicate with each other, the platform must seem agnostic & seamless.
2. Identify the technology
Identify the suitable communication technology for each business unit and the investment required for the technological adoption. This can be a complex process with so many options available in the market today. Ease of use is a key criteria – but do remember that ultimately the communication needs should define the technology needed. Ensure a thorough review of the options is done and possibly conduct a pilot before you buy.
3. Build a migration strategy
UC migration can easily become overly complex. The most common challenge is how to adopt your business workflows into a collaboration strategy that will increase productivity. That’s why many organizations consider engaging an UC solutions vendor to build a migration strategy. The ideal plan will take into consideration all the technical aspects as well as the organizational change management required…see next point!
4. Organizational Change Management
Organizational change management (OCM) is critical component of UC delivery. Whilst organizations are getting better on IT Systems rollout, it’s easy for the people side of change management to be overlooked or to lag behind. OCM must be planned in and integrated to ensure that knowledge workers are fully onboard, and ready and able to adopt the new tool. Take care to choose a vendor that can provide efficient and customer-specific OCM that will not only train your workforce on the very basics, but help them truly effectively use the new platform for their work. The vendor should also dedicate resources to support ongoing feedback and questions – especially important with a mobile workforce!
5. Measure your ROI
The vendor should also work together with the company to establish a set of performance metrics to measure the effectiveness of the new platform, as well as to determine the return on the company’s investment into the UC platform.
UC can be a game-changer for your organization
Whatever stage of your UC journey you are on, the benefits from completing it – including those metrics that show you your absolute ROI – can be huge.
Time is money, and for an increasingly mobile workforce needing to communicate and collaborate effectively, investment in Unified Communications can be a game-changer for them and, ultimately, for your organization.