Enterprise communications are struggling to meet the needs of modern workplaces as they become more flexible, collaborative and mobile than ever before. Add in connected devices, the rise of bots, advanced analytics, focus on regulatory security and privacy concerns and you have a communications landscape that is growing rapidly in complexity. Drawing on the findings of a new Enterprise Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC&C) Survey from Wainhouse Research, Moussa Zaghdoud, Senior Director and Head of Cloud Business Unit at ALE, explores the trends and preferences in business communications and the technology that exists to help end user organisations deal with this growing complexity.
The transition to a new era of communications technology is not always plain sailing, and most organisations currently find themselves trapped somewhere between the legacy world of on-premises systems and the new world of cloud-based services – siloed and not truly connected.
New Wainhouse research shows that most businesses use multiple vendors for telephony, with 75% using two or more, and 21% three or more. Alongside this, 33% have two or more Unified Communications (UC) vendors, with some using as many as five to deliver additional services.
With so many moving parts, it’s no wonder organisations ind it difficult to deliver a consistent and unified enterprise-wide communication experience to end users.
In an era of flexible working and teams operating remotely, a fixed point of collaboration isn’t enough to satisfy the communication needs of businesses. Instead, what’s needed are mobile enabled collaboration tools.
The challenge today is to unify on-premises PBX telephony with the benefits of providing universally accessible Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC&C).
Enter hybrid solutions
The answer to how you do this lies in hybrid communication solutions that have been developed to give IT departments the option to integrate existing PBX hardware with cloud-based UC&C offering key services such as presence, messaging, web conference, video, files and application sharing.
This allows businesses to protect and optimise previous investments, whilst also enabling a gradual approach to cloud adoption – as business requirements shift, more services can be moved to the cloud.
The deskphone – it just won’t go away This integration is important, because, for the time being, the deskphone is here to stay.
According to Wainhouse Research, the deskphone remains the single most common communication device used today, with almost 85% using one for business communications. But – and it’s a big but – most users do not use just a single device.
The same survey shows that upwards of 70% of end users leverage a combination of a deskphone, PC and mobile device. And, with new end user technologies such as VR, wearables and personal assistants coming to market, the number of us leveraging multiple devices is only likely to increase.
Managing a multi-device mash-up – it’s hybrid again
Business technology procurement needs to recognise this, but business operations tend to evolve gradually and don’t just jump from one technology to the next. A platform that gives equal support to ‘traditional’ and next-generation communications is the ideal solution.
If a business was to jump and solely use the latest technology, it would risk alienating users and disrupting business, and lose value from its existing investments. Hybrid cloud deployments remove these risks by augmenting the existing with the new. They also have the benefit of being easier to deploy, support and maintain – removing the burden of complex software or hardware management.
‘Good enough’ not good enough – vendors need to open up
Another key finding from Wainhouse Research’s study is that end users no longer accept ‘good enough’ quality from collaboration solutions.
Its survey shows that quality is the top end user requirement, with 90% rating it as highly important. However, a true quality platform should also encompass the other four top requirements identified in the survey – work?ow integration (70%), borderless communications (63%), mobility (54%) and global access (39%).
Open architecture platforms make it easier to integrate collaboration tools into business processes and systems. A connected communications platform can bring together HD voice, video and work?ow integration delivered across devices via the cloud, allowing users to work together and collaborate seamlessly – regardless of location or device. To get the quality users want, unsupported tools are ‘out’ and enterprise-grade is ‘in’.
Businesses without borders – Bridging vs. Peer-to-Peer Calling
Teams in businesses don’t just operate within their business’s borders. They are often located across multiple countries and can encompass internal employees, external team members, partners and contractors, even customers. The idea of the borderless enterprise is gaining momentum within the business world, but the tools and services to support this need to be in place. Location, device type or domain can’t get in the way.
Rethinking the PBX
Wainhouse Research found that, on average, 40% of enterprise voice traffic ends up in a group conference call – the percentage is even higher in larger organisations. Today, conferencing and group collaboration is becoming the de facto way much work gets done, and this requires a rethink on how a business views its PBX.
platforms that provide multiple functions, such as voice, video and document sharing, can become an extension of the PBX to support peer-to-peer and group collaboration, blending both individual and group collaboration features seamlessly, without the need for the immediate replacement of existing hardware.
The Bell Curve reigns supreme – meeting user wants and needs
Most users aren’t early adopters of technology. When asked how far along the technology curve their personal communications environments were, 34% of participants identified themselves as early adopters, 44% placed themselves in the middle of the curve, and 22% said they were happy to wait until they absolutely had to change their technology.
As organisations embrace new technologies and provide more connected workflows, they need to weigh up the advantages of new disruptive trends and technologies with the benefits of maintaining existing communications platforms.
IT teams that engage their user community at every stage of the development lifecycle will find they reduce support costs and increase user adoption. Knowing end user preferences is key to delivering the right mix of services, and a platform that retains support for legacy users will ensure a smooth transition without leaving behind slow adopters.
The communication continuum
In today’s business world, nothing is static. A flexible communications platform that can extend its capabilities is essential to meet continually changing business requirements.
A number of communication vendors provide open API access to communications features like voice, SMS and video, supporting the integration of collaboration tools for a growing mix of external team members, contractors and partners. They provide a set of cloud-based services, implemented as an overlay solution with essential collaborative capabilities. These are simple for companies to deploy and users to adopt, regardless of their existing communications systems.
For enterprise communications to stay ahead, using disruptive technology without the business disruption will be key.
The free whitepaper Enterprise Communications: Keys to a successful transition can be downloaded from