From plastic wrapping to ever-expanding drawers of proprietary chargers, we sure put up with some terrible ideas for a society that has innovated so much. We also put up with an over-complicated communications landscape. We let our communication service providers (CSPs) talk us into various products from too many vendors while accepting a degree of downtime, other performance issues, and frustrating self-service support as standard.
Couple this with a radically evolving attitude towards how, where, and when we work, and problems with our legacy approach to communications quickly start to arise. The modern workforce no longer shows up at the office at 9 a.m. and logs off at 5 p.m. As a result of the ongoing pandemic, and the realization that there are better, more balanced ways to approach our work life, the workplace as we knew it is likely gone for good. Although each company will have its policy, hybrid remote working — where workers spend some time in the office and some time working from home or other locations — will become the norm, and CSPs must be ready to support this seismic shift.
So, what should enterprises look for as they evaluate their communication options? How can their providers help them best adapt to the new working world? And how, through a period of such change, do we ensure employee satisfaction and productivity are not impacted?
Consider this as your communications and collaboration (UCC) checklist for the new workplace:
1. Full-stack solution — Rather than dealing with multiple communications tools or vendors, the ideal solution for the “now” normal will provide every business service your users need in one solution, available from anywhere and on any device. Whether they need these tools for calling, messaging, video meetings, or screen sharing, they should be able to access them in a single application, allowing for excellent communications and collaboration. When engaging with your service provider, or searching for an alternative provider, consider whether they offer these tools in a single solution. Not every service provider can do so, but ensuring you have access to a full-stack platform will make life much more streamlined.
2. Fast onboarding — Ideally, your CSP will offer a platform that makes onboarding a simple and straightforward task, including remote device provisioning, business intelligence, and reporting. Setting up users remotely from a central web interface, sending them login invites, and managing permissions and accounts makes onboarding more efficient and ensures your workforce has access to the communication tools they need with zero friction. All users should need to do is log in with a secure username and password to get going — no extra steps or troubleshooting necessary.
3. Seamless scalability with ease of consumption — Communications should be easy to consume and easy to scale as needed via hardware — IP phones, ATAs (analog terminal adapters), and EMTAs (embedded multimedia terminal adapters) — or software — applications or web portals. UC solutions that provide interoperability and work with market-leading VoIP services and solutions facilitate seamless communication anywhere, on any platform or network.
Along with being easy to onboard, your communication solution should also be easy to scale as your business needs grow or contract. Not only does this help manage costs, it also helps ensure business continuity.
4. Security — Your service provider should have a core, cloud-based microservices architecture built with security in mind. Your communication solutions should be fully encrypted, using the Transport Layer Security protocol for signaling, as well as Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol for media. Additionally, you should investigate if your CSP stores call recordings within its platform, whether you have the option of storing them locally, and if it allows third-party endpoints to connect to its services.
5. APIs — Equipped with a combination of powerful APIs, your UCC provider should be ready to offer customizable communications solutions that smoothly integrate into your unique business systems and existing workflows. Rather than adjusting your workflows to fit the UCC solution, the UCC solution should change and adapt to your requirements.
As we strive to adapt to all of the changes that the pandemic has brought, fortunately, we have the power of next-generation UCC solutions to assist us. By carefully reviewing the needs of your workers, customers, and partners and seeking out innovative communications solutions that ease and speed the ability to efficiently and securely collaborate, you’ll have some of the essential tools to survive — and thrive — in the new, now normal, business environment.