With the prevalence of digital tools for communications both in the workplace and outside, and the paradigm shift in recent months around home working, IT departments can no longer rely on traditional waterfall management styles when investing in technology.
Let's go back to basics for a minute. Businesses invest in technology for a reason - to improve or change a business outcome. Communication technologies are no different; they are there to facilitate efficient and productive ways of working between users, customers and partners.
But it's not all about technology. Technology facilitates the process and is a part of the story, but you need to understand what you want to achieve, align your processes and ensure users engage with technology to realise the desired business outcome.
The problem is that with so many disparate platforms for enabling communications, and potentially multiple accounts on each one, it all gets significantly fragmented. Users end up distracted by multiple platforms, confused about which app to use when and frustrated by IT policies that block certain apps on devices. We've seen all too often the common misconception that deploying the latest technology into a business will result in immediate productivity gains and greater employee satisfaction. Sadly, this rarely proves true, and often results in under-utilised technology, employee resistance and a shadow IT culture. Recent studies by Everest Group indicate as many as 50 per cent of users acknowledge using an unsupported and unauthorised communication solution at work.
The increase in shadow IT is causing a real-time risk to every business; with IT professionals citing security as the number one cause of stress and sleepless nights. Having a secure environment is now the number one priority, as the demand for increasing productivity and growth, and the threat of potential attack, is increasing security spending.
Now more than any other time, it is impossible to overstate the value of everyone being connected; being able to access the data and resources they need when they need it; and to access the tools to share their ideas and outcomes with the rest of the business, safely and securely.
Until recently, business communications predominantly consisted of phones and email which were mainly on-premise (contained in a single building or company). However, the communication needs of today's businesses and users have changed dramatically, not least of all in recent times due to the "new normal" of much of the workforce working remotely.
We know that UCaaS technology has the power to transform the way users communicate and collaborate, but this can only be realised if users willingly change the way they work. And users will only change the way they work if they are aware of the benefits - time savings, efficiency gains, streamlined ways of working. This is where a change project can bring end users on a journey to adopt to a new way of working.
At Core, we have seen time and again that by placing people at the heart of technology-facilitated change, cultural barriers that threaten a project's success are broken down.
We're all familiar with the idea of unified communications, and the transformational value of bringing all the ways people communicate together, but few enterprises have truly been able to realise it's potential.
The demand for anytime, anywhere connectivity is accelerating as workforces become increasingly mobile and virtual. And as productivity becomes ever-more important as a point of competitive differentiation and a catalyst for change, enabling real-time sharing between customers, partners and employees is critical.
For this reason, culture change through technology transformation is high on most companies' agendas. Technology adoption is a process, not a single point-in-time or a one-and-done exercise. It's not about just sending an email with a link to training, nor will it happen overnight. Adoption comes as a result of changed behaviour; change drives adoption which results in ROI. And change is hard. For changes to be of any true value, they've got to be lasting and consistent.
Uncovering the real value of UCaaS
Traditionally, tech development has led to a patchwork quilt of tools, apps and device across the business. This leads to poor user adoption and unsecure ways of working.
Across industries, change-enabling drivers for today's communication projects are improving productivity and enhancing collaboration, especially among geographically dispersed organisations. One of the key routes to increased engagement and productivity is through increased collaboration, in an environment that is conducive to that, with the tech in place to support it which is robust enough to withstand data protection and perimeter security across multiple devices.
But how do you deploy technologies and enforce policies on a diverse group of people - especially those beyond the conventional boundaries of the business? UCaaS technologies can cut through organisational and geographical barriers to give people the freedom to work together in new and dynamic ways. But adoption programmes and an appropriately planned and deployed digital infrastructure aren't enough; the environment must be reliable, and able to operate with maximum levels of efficiency over the long term. Which is no small ask.
The current global COVID-19 situation is forcing a cultural change to the way we work; the "new normal" is, and will remain, a very different working world to the one we knew pre-lockdown.
Offices will be very different places - and users' expectations will be very different.
Where Microsoft Teams is winning the hearts and minds of users, business leaders and security experts, is in its ability to seamlessly integrate a suite of communications and collaboration apps into an enterprise-grade digital front door to the business. Customers, staff and partners have a single-entry point to access the tools and services they need, securely and efficiently, because at its heart, Microsoft Teams is built on a foundation of security.
Historically, we were seeing a 50/50 even split between businesses who were ready to embrace UCaaS, versus those who were still tied to physical devices and set ways of working that relied heavily on people being present in an office.
This period of unprecedented change has been a wakeup call, and not just for knowledge workers. Our conversations, which range across public sector, healthcare and professional services are now 80/20 in favour of businesses looking to adopt a cloud-based business model that is unencumbered by the reliance on physical on-premise systems and devices. When you take away a business's reliance on a phone system, this opens the door to a new world of possibilities.
The beauty of business change is that it doesn't stop. The kind of workstyle innovations we are seeing today will continue to evolve into tomorrow, and there is little chance of a slowdown in disruptive competitors, operating models or technologies.
Smart businesses don't just recognise this; they plan for and embrace change. At Core, we know how Teams as a UCaaS solution can add value within a business environment, with many of our customers realising benefits that go far beyond initial expectations. We understand the interconnected relationships between people and technology, and by bringing those two worlds together we help customers realise the true value, increased productivity and improved collaboration that connected communications deliver - now and into the future.
It is IT's job to maintain the health, security and performance of the UCaaS platform; regular health checks, proactive diagnostic and performance monitoring analysis all have a key role to play in ensuring the network remains healthy and available. So too, do device management programmes, to maintain and protect the growing numbers of smartphones, tablets and other personal computing devices.
It can be a complex undertaking given the likely diversity and interdependencies involved with managing all the different component services and suppliers that make up an effective UCaaS environment. But it is vital to provide a robust, reliable and available environment - something that can only be delivered by a multi-disciplined and highly skilled IT team, often with support from vendors or systems integrator partners.
Getting this wrong can have a detrimental effect on user experience and confidence, which in turn can drive shadow IT and dilute the business benefits.
In today's organisation, users and teams expect to be connected and have uninterrupted access to everything they need, anytime, anywhere, across any device. No mean feat. Core is here to support IT teams and the business, keeping the heart beating and freeing IT teams of the stresses. Challenge us to unlock the potential of unified communications in your business.
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