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Unified Communications: the challenges and benefits according to Dell

By Catherine Knowles
Fri 11 Mar 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Businesses are struggling to provide remote workers with a Unified Communications (UC) experience that provides the same value they receive in the office, a new Dell survey finds. Primarily, the survey shows lack of visibility into UC usage is costing organisations money, affecting productivity, and exposing the business to risk.

According to the survey, 83% of organisations expect the number of remote workers in their organisations to increase in the coming year. Consequently, UC capabilities have become a critical component - and in many cases a necessity - in the IT mix for most companies, Dell says.

Dell’s survey finds nearly all (95%) of respondents face challenges in delivering quality UC service to remote workers. On top of this, more than three quarters (79%) of IT respondents depend on users to alert them to UC quality of service issues that need to be addressed, meaning many issues are never known to IT.

While 98% of respondents see value in gaining insight into UC remote worker usage, and 75% of respondents noted their existing UC technology lacks the analytic or diagnostic capabilities that would help drive better remote worker experiences.

When UC fails and employees turn to unsupported communications tools, 77% of respondents noted having data security concerns and 55% worry about maintaining compliance regulations, the survey finds.

As UC deployment costs increase with wider deployment, lack of visibility into UC usage and adoption make ROI difficult to calculate. Additionally, 55% of respondents report that they spend time every week responding to UC quality issues. When UC fails, survey respondents fear user abandonment of the platform for unsupported communication tools, according to Dell.

Looking at the challenges and benefits of UC

Ineffective UC delivery affects organisations’ productivity, impacts security, and can increase the support burden for IT. Better UC management alleviates the time IT spends troubleshooting UC problems so they can focus on new technology advancements that will help grow the business, according to Dell.

To help protect and strengthen existing UC investments and encourage remote workforce adoption, organisations should:

Track remote worker usage: The ability to easily track and trend remote workers’ usage of communications features like audio and desktop sharing gives organisations needed insight for determining whether their UC investment is adequately serving the remote worker.

Dell says, if specific steps are taken to increase remote worker adoption of UC, such as the remote deployment of an updated UC client, usage trending enables organisations to measure the impact of those changes. Having good insight into remote worker UC usage also enables the business to proactively monitor for potential compliance and data loss issues.

Gather and monitor the quality of experience: Remote workers are exposed to a less managed environment, introducing more variables that can reduce their quality of experience. For example, many remote workers attempt to use the audio and video features of their UC solution over a VPN network connection, which introduces substantial real-time network latency resulting in a poor UC experience, says Dell.

Having a seamless view of remote worker QoE data, including the associated network connection type, device make and model, and network performance, helps IT determine if remote worker quality is an issue, pin-point problem areas, and take appropriate corrective action, according to the survey.

Get insight into remote worker issues: Challenges faced by remote workers include the endpoint device make and model, the patch version of the UC client software, and the type of external network connection they are using. Having insights into all aspects of individual remote workers’ sessions allows IT to take corrective action.

For example, UC client software such as Microsoft Skype for Business often is updated by Microsoft to address performance or usability in specific scenarios. Knowing the versions and cumulative updates remote workers are running allows IT to either proactively prevent certain outdated versions of the client from connecting, or know which individuals they need to upgrade, Dell says.

Curtis Johnstone, Dell Systems and Information Management senior UC Product Architect and Distinguished Engineer, and Microsoft Skype for Business MVP, says,“Organisations today are increasing their investments in unified communications platforms to support a growing remote workforce, yet they lack comprehensive UC analytic capabilities to get clear insights into how their remote workers are using the UC platforms, if at all.

“As investment in these capabilities grows, organisations need better visibility into their UC platforms, both to provide a quality experience that encourages adoption, and better manage costs and determine ROI.”

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