Unified communications: Where tech meets common sense

The technology needed for good communications techniques already exists. Now, it's time to put it to work.

Connecting employees and helping them work together effectively are obvious goals for businesses, and each new wave of technology simply makes them easier to achieve. As with all IT-led initiatives, unified communications plans work better when they are planned out meticulously and tied explicitly to high-level business objectives. However, empowered by the relatively clear purpose behind them, these plans have a good chance of succeeding and unlocking new, powerful capabilities. Now is a critical time to consider such projects. Companies that dawdle may find their competitors have taken the initiative and left them behind. Experts in the field can help organizations avoid this fate through common sense.

Clear-headed adoption
As industry insider Duncan Higgins recently wrote for Information Age, there are some firms not taking full advantage of the operational benefits of unified communications, in spite of the tools behind such plans now being commonplace. Higgins stated that instant messages and video conferencing could be in place but not recognized as difference-making. Taking these applications for granted is a troubling trend, as it means that UC plans could be much more prevalent than they are, and some businesses are missing out on a change of pace and an agility-boosting new method of working.

People, not hardware, are inevitably at the heart of real changes in enterprise processes. Higgins explained that the key to making unified communications truly work in the enterprise could involve selling the approach to other workers through plain, value-focused language. IT innovations are critical underpinning to UC, but executives and everyday users alike could benefit from hearing about what the new methodology will mean for them on a day-to-day basis. Higgins explained that once the idea of UC catches on throughout a business, it will be hard to ignore, countering the common opinion that the status quo is fine.

Expansion and evolution
What is the ideal time to add UC features? It should be as soon as possible. After all, some of the key components of these strategies are becoming common. In his predictions for the technology's 2014 progress, Network World contributor Larry Hettick stated that he expects to see more bring your own device use as the year progresses, with the way in which the technology is used changing. He noted that BYOD was already a factor in 2013 and will continue to be so, with employees eager to connect their own devices to work networks. Some firms will have good UC structures in place to accommodate them.

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