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Cast Your Cloud Communications Vote Wisely

The one thing every civilization needs to survive is the rule of law, and it's the same with the management of technology within a business. The problem is that laws can be hard to impose when anarchy is so tantalizing. Witness the wildfire-rate adoption of cloud-based communications and collaboration platforms like WhatsApp, Slack, Snapchat, and the like. Businesses seeking control of and visibility into these solutions for security and compliance purposes have tried to put up barricades to these tools, but those measures quickly become self-defeating, undermining the ability of IT teams to drive technology strategy.

Salvation has emerged from a familiar source. Like governments voted out of office for being out of touch, vendors and service providers have bounced back after a period of reflective renewal. Having initially been overrun by the deep and rapid changes to communications consumption over the last 10 years, they've finally conceded to cloudification. The result is a New Deal for the digital age, where the "cloudification" of communications and collaboration is polling well among the masses of SMBs as well as the few mega-corporations.

The Perils of Electing a Dictatorship

Cloud is undoubtedly the business game-changer of the decade, and has facilitated a massive shift to a flexible, always-on, accelerated communications culture that allows us to check and share our documents, emails, voices, and faces from anywhere at any time. Flexible, cloud-based packages are on offer from all the major sources and organizations are lapping them up. Propositions with no more hardware, no more service provider charges, fewer operational expenses -- all wrapped up in a powerful and compelling ideology called UC. Or UCism, if you will...

But is there a hidden, darker side to these big cloud-based offerings? In fact, there is.

Amid all the UCism zealotry of digitalization and cloudification, vendors and service providers are slyly shifting the power away from choice and back to their base instincts of lock down and shut out. While you can hardly blame them for protecting their business models, this move toward exclusivity brings drawbacks.

With the lockdown model, the user experience often gets overlooked, flexibility becomes an illusion, and genuine ROI is compromised because of the impact on productivity. Plainly and simply, we're on the cusp of a new digital era and businesses must be careful when evaluating new cloud solutions to ensure those they select help safeguard the freedom of their cloud communications future.

Use Your Cloud to Vote for Clearer Skies

Fortunately, there are steps organizations can take to avoid the traps and enjoy the triumphs of cloudification. They must guard against the following:

  • Desktop-first -- Desk phones are the paperweights of the digital age. Users' first preferences are their mobile devices. They're the offices in their pockets and provide the easiest way to balance work and home lives. Creating a mobile-first experience, on any and every device, is the number one priority. Work back to the desktop experience from there.
  • Lack of open standards -- Open standards should be pervasive, not optional. Implement open APIs and ready-made integrations capable of bridging the infrastructure you already have to the collaboration solution you want.
  • Lazy UX -- The user experience needs to be at the heart of your end-to-end solution and it needs to address the disruptive and changing digital preferences of today's users. A well-designed user experience streamlines, focuses, declutters, simplifies, and contextualizes. It is never an afterthought to patch together disparate features and functions.
  • Cloud on someone else's terms -- It needs to be sized and spec'd for your needs, giving you the flexibility you need to leverage it for connection-persistent communications that tie devices and conversations together through context.

The ideal solution needs to fully embrace the collaborative instincts of human communication. That means presence-driven conferencing, chat and sharing, through messaging, voice and video, plus cloud file shares, on every mobile device and desktop. Before long it will mean threaded communications too; collaboration sessions that are not only available across all devices but also stored and synchronized in the cloud. This will enable content and multiple discussion streams of entire meetings to become as easily accessible as call history logs.

The mechanics of the ideal solution will be straightforward and non-disruptive. You won't have to replace any telephony gear unless you really want to do so. You can run your unique array of traditional and born-in-the-cloud vendor technologies under a single, harmonious user experience. This will require a neutral service platform that orchestrates everything from a softphone perspective and stitches together the most optimal user experience based on the best of a multivendor offering.

Thank goodness we now have technology that's for the benefit of all, but the reality is proprietary lock-in is just one wrong choice away. What are you doing to ensure cloud communications and collaboration that help your business succeed in the digital age?