More tech, more problems: Unify your communications to keep up with your team
“Did you email that information to me or say it in chat?
“I think I said it on the conference call. Or maybe I texted it to you”.
Cue a never-ending quest to hunt down that vital statistic that everyone remembers learning, but no one knows where.
Sometimes you (or your employees) can be forgiven for wondering if it's a case of “mo' tools, mo' problems”, in your communications strategy.
People move from emails to their office phone to their mobiles and video conferencing but the conversation and collaboration don't move with them.
As well as the great “where was that information, again?” hunt created when the various communication tools don't work together, there's other frustrations.
Nobody likes an endless cycle of downloading this or that plug-in to get on a conference call.
Equally loathed is remembering a different password for each communication app. Not only does it create extra workloads, but it can be daunting for older or less tech savvy employees.
And from the organisations' perspective, the days of locked-down, desk-based devices might be long gone, but moving to the newer models brings security concerns around data storage and controlling access.
Then, there's the challenges of integrating these platforms with existing HR systems and corporate intranets without incurring extensive middleware development costs.
Opting Out is Not an Option
It can be tempting to shrug your shoulders and toss it into the “too hard” pile, but these days, that's not possible.
For your employees, being anywhere in the world yet staying connected to colleagues is critical.
Take video conferencing. It allows a rich level of collaboration on par with everyone being in the same room, not to mention saving you a bundle in travel costs and associated lost productivity.
For organisations, globalisation and need for scalable communications has catapulted the video conferencing market towards a projected $7.85 billion by 2023.
Your employees also like it.
A survey from Gigacom found that the majority of users think it makes it easier to complete projects or get their point across.
Perhaps this has something to do with our waning attention spans: the same survey found that people are less likely to multitask on a video call than on audio.
But third-party apps can create issues with call clarity and stable connections.
Add to this the concerns about protecting critical data from unauthorised access - not to mention audit compliance - and the promises of productivity gains start looking thinner than a hyperbolic paraboloid potato chip.
Streamlining Your Tools
The challenge, then, is how you harness the advantage and realise the savings, without creating a whole host of new little headaches.
Dropping the piecemeal approach and going with a cloud-based truly unified communications (UC) platform goes a long way to solving many of the problems.
Your employees like the ability to take a call on their work phone and then seamlessly move it to their mobile so they can still make their train home.
And having a central, searchable content and storage environment puts an end to comments like “I have that information, it's in my email, I will have to get it to you after”-type comments in meetings and calls.
For organisations, it makes giving your staff these tools easier as well. When a UC platform connects to your HR system, it means provisioning new employees with the appropriate access to video conferencing, voice and community tools from day one is done in one go.
It also eases concerns about protecting critical data from unauthorised access without compromising the functionality and general user experience no matter where they're using it.
And there's no unpleasant surprise come audit time because you know exactly what's in use, since your employees don't have to go behind your back and use unapproved alternatives to get the job done.
Better yet, the cloud-based environment means giving them the right functionality doesn't require investment in expensive hardware like a Multipoint control units (MCU) that you then have to service and maintain.
Employees expect to be able to access a range of communication and collaborations tools.
The challenge now, is to deliver it in a way that doesn't make life harder for them or yourself.
Embracing integration is the key to truly reaping the productivity gains.