Unified communications and collaboration (UCC) platforms have been gaining dominance mainly due to COVID-19’s impact on how we approach work. And as work from anywhere (WFA) becomes more popular, UCC tools are evolving to keep up with today’s unprecedented approach to work. However, enterprises with dispersed workforces need a strategy to reap the benefits of UCC platforms.
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UCC and Dispersed Workforces
UCC tools are essential to organizations with dispersed workforces—supporting and keeping them engaged in several ways. With the current unprecedented nature of dispersed workforces, flexibility in work environments has become a priority for employees.
Contrary to the expectation that dispersed workforces would lead to reduced productivity, supporting dispersed teams through the use of communications and collaboration technology increases productivity. UCC tools offer employees the platform to stay productive on their flexible schedules. This is through the provision of centralized tools that replicate every process and activity an employee would need to be effective at their tasks. They are also not limited to a single device to access their work as the UCC platforms are available across multiple platforms.
Flexibility solely, however, cannot guarantee productivity. Organizational culture plays a part in improving the productivity of dispersed workers as they enjoy a sense of belonging. UCC tools allow dispersed teams to collaborate with others without seeming like they are disadvantaged by not physically being at the office, resultantly bridging the gap between office and remote employees. These tools shatter the barriers of distance and location by seamlessly allowing workers to form relationships, bonds, and enjoy interactions that improve a team environment, thus intuitively improving productivity.
Furthermore, cloud-based UCC platforms offer enterprises scalability of their internal communication and collaboration processes, helping them handle the unpredictability of hybrid work environments without impacting productivity and efficiency. As such, changes in communication and collaboration resource usage can be taken in stride through the scalability of cloud-based UCC platforms.
UCC Improving to Meet Emerging Challenges
As working from anywhere becomes more prevalent, challenges such as managing remote workers and keeping them productive and motivated become more apparent. Working remotely may leave employees feeling isolated and frustrated when they struggle to be effective or feel like their participation as team members is limited.
Video meetings are challenging the dominance of voice calls since they are as close as it gets to actual human-to-human interaction among dispersed teams. UCC platforms have been improving their video meetings by improving voice and video quality to provide users with an experience that combats feelings of isolation. UCaaS platforms are also offering a team collaboration experience that engages team members and improves participation. This also allows users to integrate apps into their collaboration platforms and design their workflows, leading to more effective management of their work.
As the demand for high-quality voice and video meetings increases, ensuring consistently high video quality on remote devices and networks becomes a challenge. AI tools can be used to flag issues of quality and automatically adjust video and voice quality to stealthily solve issues. The effectiveness of digital labor, such as chatbots, virtual assistants, and other integrated services, is also improving, thus making work more seamless for dispersed teams. For instance, tedious workflows can be automated, and customer-facing bots can simplify work for employees.
UCC Strategies and Cases for Successful Communication with Remote Workers
Examining how UCC tools perform to support virtual interaction at scale
Enterprises need to generate insight into the performance of their UCC tools to identify areas that require optimization or reconfiguration. Consider a case where through tracking tool performance data, an enterprise realizes that remote users in a certain region experience severe video latency. Identifying such an issue through constant examination allows the enterprise to understand that such a region may be experiencing overutilization and figure out what adjustments would be required to ensure that remote teams are not disadvantaged.
Migration to cloud-based communications to facilitate remote work and continuity
To better handle the growing needs of remote teams, enterprises should consider migrating from on-premises UC platforms to cloud-based UC platforms. The scalability and out-of-the-box integrations with third-party applications offered by cloud-based platforms make them more effective at supporting a remote workforce. Furthermore, unlike with legacy UC platforms, remote teams have access to all the necessary features and tools regardless of location, without trade-offs, thus bettering engagement and experience for employees as well as customers.
However, depending on factors such as cost, data residency, data privacy, and security, enterprises can choose between a full cloud or hybrid cloud approach to UCC platforms.
Also read: Four Trends Driving VoIP Development in 2021
Transitioning to intelligent UCC platforms
The current transitional period has the end goal to achieve truly intelligent communications platforms while moving away from analog features that are merged. An intelligent communications platform can generate valuable insights from current and historical communications data to improve the UCC platform for users. Voice analytics is becoming more and more integral to the quality of the offerings of UCC platforms.
Additionally, features like the ability to automatically generate transcripts that take notes or translate conversations in voice and video conferencing make communication with remote workers more effective. These transcripts may then be shared with participants after a meeting. Such features are increasingly becoming central to platform intelligence as they automate meetings, their set up, and the content generated to provide a seamless experience all through.
Offering a unified experience
Remote workers may have to stay on top of multiple accounts, such as email and social media; make and receive many phone calls; and attend video and voice meetings among other channels of communication. It becomes tedious and ineffective if a remote worker constantly loses time moving from one platform to another to work.
Since UCC tools are people-centric, several vendors offer a unified client. However, aiming to go beyond a unified client to a unified experience will enhance communication with dispersed teams. The drive towards a shift from a unified client to a unified experience is being aided by prescriptive and predictive analytics.
UCC platforms with diverse ways to support communication offer greater value to the communication and collaboration needs of remote teams in the longer term compared to platforms that offer either solely voice or video meetings.
Addressing BYOD, collaboration security, and governance
Bring your own device (BYOD) solutions have become more popular as more enterprises support dispersed teams. As this boosts employee morale and the effectiveness of remote work, if unattended, a BYOD approach may complicate as well as threaten the security of an enterprise. Enterprises should ensure that the security concerns presented by working on devices remotely are mitigated by dedicating time to identifying gaps and holes in their security policies and UCC environments.
Enterprises should also pay attention to collaboration security and governance as this defines the user and channel management, and policies such as usage, and access. If ignored, communication with remote teams may be compromised by threats such as denial of service attacks, theft of service, and unauthorized access.
Read next: Top UCaaS Providers & Companies for 2021