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The year business communications comes of age?

Staff Writer's picture

This article was originally published on InformationAge

The Cisco acquisition of Broadsoft has sent shock waves through the UC industry, and could prove significant in terms of how it affects the sector next year

Work used to be where people went, not what they did; but 2018 could smash down the office walls, place the office in employee’s pockets and give them the freedom to work in their own style, in their own way. Bringing everyone one step closer to achieving the perfect equilibrium between career, ambition and lifestyle, health, pleasure, leisure, family and friends.

If businesses are not already championing the digital workplace, then chances are the workers are already doing it. In the same way the BYOD trend was causing headaches for IT managers around the dawn of the smartphone, there are now a multitude of communications platforms disrupting how organisations process information and keep everything secure.

The likes of Skype, Slack and even Facebook Messenger are popular and useful, but many organisations have little control over them short of mandating employees with a list of draconian rules.

Unified communications (UC) is an extremely popular project within the realm of digital transformation. Advancements in UC technology over the past decade have allowed workers to communicate across different interfaces and platforms.

As organisations undergo broader digital transformations, it’s an opportunity for businesses to introduce a UC strategy that ties everything together and allows for a more communicative workforce, but it’s an opportunity they need to grab with both hands.

Traditionally, communication is seen as isolated events organised in the mode and time domain. Everyone is familiar with call histories where anyone can scroll through endless lists of missed, incoming and outgoing calls.

Entirely separated, some have a different view of messages organised by individuals where they can walk back in time to re-read conversations regardless of context.

However, for modes of communication such as file-sharing, collaboration, document signing, voicemail and memos, there seems to be still no established standard for how to present them.

Currently interactions are switched between communication modes, often using different modes in parallel at convenience; escalate chats to calls to content sharing sessions and vice versa. Businesses are in need of a better, more natural way of organising.

There is another way

This is where the idea of threaded communication (TC) comes into play. This is the basic ability to intelligently group communication events. Think of it as similar to when email applications started to offer the option to organise the inbox not only chronologically, but also so that you could group emails by subject, reply and forward.

If 2017 taught anything, it’s that customers don’t want to be hampered by different levels of integration. TC is part-and-parcel of UC, rather than something new to steal its crown. TC is a single piece of communication through which users can pick up any previous conversations and continue from where they’ve left off, seamlessly.

Taking iMessage as an example, rather than instigate a new conversation each time they contact someone, users can pick up the same conversation, the same ‘thread’, and continue exactly where they left off, be that on their tablet, phone or computer.

Essentially, TC is an organisational tool, a utilitarian overlay of unified communication which quickly organises relevant data and communication events. It embraces a persistent view of teams, topics and individual communication.

This technology can provide a secure space through which all colleagues can communicate across their chosen channel, on their chosen device. which enables geographically-dispersed users to work as effectively as, or even better than, they could if they were sitting around the same table, in the same room at the same time.

2018 is the year where business users should focus less on the device itself, and more on the overall user experience. Platforms that focus on usability, with added collaboration, is the next evolution of the UC/softphone experience.

Those organisations who don’t get onboard with this cultural movement will be left behind. Smaller, nimbler businesses are undoubtedly leading the charge, with a few notable exceptions.

In short, larger organisations cannot afford to wait. The sheer amount of information created and processed every day means that, the longer an organisation takes to embrace this form of digital transformation, the harder it’s going to be to uproot current legacies and processes when they do eventually embrace it.

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