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UC Industry Wakes Up to Frontline Moment


A woman working in a manufacturing facility
Image: Shutter B -
As many organizations contemplate the mythical return to the office, and address the accompanying technology and workplace issues that it brings, it’s important to remember that the majority of workers never had the opportunity to work from home. Of course, I’m talking about frontline workers.
Frontline workers are those that have to go to a specific physical location to perform their work. Representing a majority of at least 75% of the workforce, frontline workers come from any number of industries, including manufacturing, health care, transportation, retail, construction, services, and many others. These workers who typically deal with data and customer interactions, including the contact center, use computers in their daily work. A percentage of frontline workers were able to do their job from home, but most roles required going to a workplace outside the home.
For these workers, the discussion of work from home or return to the office in a hybrid world has no real meaning. In the frontline world, there never was a general exodus to home — the work continues, wherever possible. However, most frontline workers became familiar with virtual meetings over the last year, often in their personal lives. This familiarity with the use of both the devices and communication and collaboration apps is now a general skill in the workforce.
The use of UCaaS collaboration and communications has impacted this world as well. Companies have adapted their UCaaS platforms to deliver business process value to frontline employees. Some have adopted specific add-on technologies to enhance more complex transactions in the remote customer experience.
At the same time, the industry and UCaaS vendors are waking up to the size and opportunity of frontline workers. The UCaaS vendors offer specific solutions for the frontline workforce with pricing and functionality to match their requirements. For example, Microsoft has a frontline worker offer that can leverage the business process capabilities available in the Azure cloud. Cisco is similarly focused on the frontline, and Zoom reported a large number of frontline use cases. Mitel has implemented UCaaS based solutions that provide large-scale services to frontline emergency workers. Companies like Glance have focused on high-value, close-touch interactions, primarily in the customer service arena. Glance combines video with highly managed applications and screen sharing to facilitate complex transactions.
Finally, adjacent vertical and horizontal applications companies are beginning to introduce communication and collaborations into their offers. Amazon AWS Smart Business has at least five collaboration and sharing tools, including Connect and Chime, that can be integrated into AWS-based business processes.
While the use cases and benefits of UCaaS in the knowledge worker community have become well understood in the last 16 months, the potential impacts on the frontline of business are not yet well defined. However, the early use cases promise significant returns.
If your business has frontline workers, this is the time to begin understanding the landscape and the opportunities for applying advanced communications and collaboration to your frontline. At Enterprise Connect 2021 in Orlando, September 27-29, I will be hosting a session focused on frontline and how businesses can be transformed. Joining me will be Karthik Arumugam, group VP product marketing for Mitel, and several other to-be-determined panelists. We will begin with a brief overview of the frontline and move to a panel discussion with a group of industry leaders. We hope to see you there.