One of the most difficult challenges for IT departments is managing enterprise communications infrastructure across different locations spanning significant distances. Oftentimes, IT must “deputize” an employee in the remote location to act as a liaison with regional communications providers. Alternatively, an IT team member must spend what limited time he or she has traveling between offices for deployments and maintenance.
To ensure your users have a consistent experience no matter where in the world they reside, and to make the best use of your IT team’s time and your organization’s budget, consider cloud-based Unified Communications (UC).
Cloud-based UC, or Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS), enables organizations to optimize both IT resources and the end-user experience. Rather than relying on office managers in remote offices to serve as remote extensions of IT, the rise of UCaaS allows organizations to leverage experienced providers to create a top-notch, consistent, end-to-end experience for all users.
Let’s back up for a moment and define what we mean by UC. UC today encompasses voice, video & audio conferencing, messaging, contact centers/ACD, email, team workspaces, and more. UC has become the backbone of internal and external collaboration for many forward looking organizations, where users can choose the medium they prefer and that best suits the task at hand. For instance, a call center representative on a VoIP line with a customer in the U.S. might want to instant message a tech support specialist in the U.K. to answer a question. Or a sales person in Singapore might want to videoconference his supervisor in Munich to review the next week’s targets. The key is for all employees to have equal and anytime access to these tools via a high-performance network.
Organizations must be able to replicate the UC environment as they grow. With cloud-based UC, businesses can initiate the provisioning of new offices with full UC functionality from a centralized portal. Upgrades, maintenance and licensing are all handled by the provider. CIOs get all the worldwide access, without overcommitting limited IT resources.
With cloud-based UC, organizations can match user profiles to UC capabilities, creating the opportunity for targeted deployments and the avoidance of unnecessary charges. If certain users don’t require videoconferencing then businesses don’t have to deploy that capability to that user or pay the fee for that feature. UC management is incredibly granular so as the organization experiences movement such as changes in user roles or consolidation of offices, IT can make or direct required adjustments.
Recently, a client in the pharmacy industry based on the West coast was growing at a rapid pace. The company added more than 100 employees and doubled its annual sales in a short period of time. They were taxing the capabilities of their technology provider – a local firm that provided them managed voice over IP.
With administrators in one locale, users spread across numerous locations, and several types of settings, including retail, cloud-based UC seemed like a perfect fit. For instance, workers in each retail location could share a dedicated phone line and voicemail box, ensuring they could collaborate as well as present a single presence to their customers.
Another customer, a healthcare provider with more than 500,000 patients and more than 150 locations, wanted a sophisticated and seamless UC solution. They chose a cloud-based UC because the CIO’s small staff of four could not keep up with the existing UC demands at each existing location, let alone those still to come.
The CIO wanted to get rid of all the individual UC networks and consolidate into a centralized and scalable cloud-based UC operation. Switching to a single cloud UC provider returned IT man-hours and budget to the organization and enabled IT to easily serve its growing user population. Instead of having to chase down network and application issues at each office, the IT team and users now have a single support number to dial.
UCaaS can provide significant benefits to the organization’s IT team. But perhaps most importantly, cloud-based UC provides the platform for organizational innovation, collaboration, and productivity. Knowing a colleague is available on the same communication tool makes reaching out a more likely occurrence. Organizations – especially those with a global presence or hundreds of remote offices – thrive when employees can quickly and simply collaborate with one another. Increased innovation and productivity are the direct result of more frequent interactions between teammates.