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Is Too Much UC a Bad Thing?

To call the unified communications market big is a massive understatement. In fact, Global Market Insights forecasts the UC market to reach $96 billion by 2023. However, big problems can arise along with market growth.

With competition heating up, we now seem to have a shiny new innovation for improving collaboration announced daily. Consequently, UC has become a marketplace overloaded with choice, and this poses a threat to the very nature of UC's benefit to the enterprise -- unity. At this point we must ask ourselves, is too much UC a bad thing?

Well, kinda! When you're drowning in an overabundance of choice, determining the communication tool that would be most beneficial to your organization can be difficult. The never-ending increase in new and exciting ways for people to communicate and collaborate brings with it a higher risk of organizations making the wrong choice for their particular needs or delaying the deployment decision altogether as they struggle to discern the differences among the varied options -- both of which could have devastating results on an organization's competitiveness and success.

Everyone has his or her own personal preference. While e-mail may be your go-to, mine might be Twitter, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Slack, or some other digital communications platform. However, as choice continues to increase, so does the issue of interoperability among different platforms and technologies. We've essentially ended up with a multitude of solutions that often struggle to play nicely with one another, if at all, within the enterprise.

This chaos is preventing UC from enabling organizations to enjoy the seamless experience of collaborating across different devices, platforms, and methods of communication. So, what are today's businesses to do? They must work hard to find true UC solutions that lessen the chaos, increase collaboration, and become unified once more. How can they do this?

United States of Communication

UC is an extremely popular project within the realm of digital transformation. As businesses big and small set off on this transformational journey, they must introduce a UC strategy that ties everything together and allows for a more communicative workforce.

What businesses need is a solution that is scalable and cost effective, and that emphasizes the user experience, combining voice and video calling, screen sharing and collaboration, instant messaging and presence management. The solution should also interoperate with other platforms and devices while offering a commitment to security, quality of service, and open standards to promote reuse, reliability, and flexibility.

The advent of threaded communication (TC) is an exciting advancement that will help eliminate confusion and reduce workplace distractions by grouping conversations across all platforms and devices into one thread or timeline. TC can allow employees to connect, communicate, and collaborate, no matter where they are in the world, at any time, using any communications device. It can enable 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.

In short, TC captures the very essence of UC, breathing life into it once more and helping overcome the challenges presented by having too many UC choices. TC makes communications easier because it enables workers to use whatever communications mode -- voice, video, messaging, and/or screen sharing -- required by a business workflow at any moment, and it allows you to create persistent, living communications threads that can be revisited over time. In addition, it enables spontaneous collaboration sessions to occur, which is helpful for drawing into the UC fold those people who typically don't participate in planned collaboration sessions due to the perceived complexity of arranging them or participating in them.

Election Time

Before casting your vote for a UC solution, organizations must consider the following:

  1. Office in your pocket. Pick a UC tool that lets you access all work documents anytime, anywhere.
  2. Not my way or the highway! Your UC tool should be capable of playing nicely with others, allowing you to easily merge the infrastructure you already have in place with the right UC solution for you. It should also allow your deployment to grow and change over time, as new communications tools enter the market.
  3. A matter of national security. Look for solutions with standards-based security protocols, such as TLS for signalling and SRTP for media, so every call can be delivered securely without risk of being compromised.
  4. Putting the people first. As I have mentioned in previous columns, the UC tool must put the user experience at the heart of the end-to-end solution. UC needs to address the disruptive and changing digital preferences of today's users while providing an organized, thoughtful method for tying everything together. A well-designed UX streamlines, focuses, declutters, simplifies, and contextualizes.
  5. Demand your rights. To help ensure you get the most out of your UC investment, petition vendors to commit to an open approach that promotes compatibility and interoperability.

If you harness your employees' propensity for digital communication, you can provide them with the means to put the aptitude for digital communications they have developed in their social lives to good use. As such, you're not only making the most of their existing skills, you're also opening channels through which you can better communicate company news and developments, reinforce brand pride and awareness, and keep them up to date with team targets and progress. UC can provide a secure space through which all colleagues can communicate across their chosen channels, on their chosen devices, in one space. It is revolutionizing collaborative communications, making the very most of the available communications power we have at our fingertips, mouths, and ears.

So, is too much UC a bad thing? Well, too much choice obviously increases the likelihood of choosing wrongly, which would be an expensive mistake that could have more than a financial cost. However, get it right and the business could be transformed, giving it a greatly desired competitive advantage within the market. You must therefore study the market and vendor manifestos closely, to ensure that you are electing the best UC tool for your organization.