Dan Hurley, VP of Information Technology, Solera Health
When we start to think about how to effectively access data when it comes to business communications, we need to start thinking about removing the physical equipment layer and moving this to the cloud. Today, businesses are expanding their workforce to be more mobile and spread out by working from home, establishing “hoteling” work spaces and let’s not forget the “road warrior” travelers. The technology needs to accommodate how users work within the business structure, that is where Unified Communications comes in.
What is the most common device that everyone uses every day; their cell phone! So, business communications need to reflect the mobility factor and take on this new trend. Just by the way technology has grown fast over the last few years, we are no longer defined to a desk. We are mobile now and the technology needs to reflect that and follow you.
Using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in the cloud for unified communications is the future of mobility technology. Say you have a physical on-premise phone system at your place of work, the old way is to dial/call into the phone system and check your voice mails. Today, you can have your voice mails just emailed to you and you can check them on your cell phone or any other device. Some systems will do voice-to-text translations so all you need to do is read the message like an email or text message. The less clicks a user has to do to read or listen to the message the better. Why make it difficult to just listen to a voice message while in a meeting, at a restaurant or in a taxi?
Unified Communications can also take text from an email or message and translate it to a voice so you do not have to read it. As you can see, this is a very customizable process that allows all users to properly use and enjoy this new technology within their business workplace.
Think of the CIO or Network Architect that needs to provide “process improvement” to his or her network for the business to be more efficient. Unified Communications is the core to making that happen. If you can make communications better and easier for the users, then you are on a good start.
In the Cloud
As you start to research Unified Communications services, think about how the cloud can provide the necessary features and services for your business. If you still maintain an on-premise phone system with servers, then you will have to modify your local firewall and security to accommodate Unified Communications to communicate to the outside world of your network. This adds complexity to your network and increased licensing and support costs, not to mention user frustration. If its in the cloud, you pay a subscription fee and its already built for the outside world, no local Local-Area-Network (LAN) firewall equipment, security concerns, routing, etc. that you need to worry about and deal with.
If you can make communications better and easier for the users, then you are on a good start
As your workforce moves around, the Unified Communications platform follows the users regardless of their location within the world. The Cloud solution also maintains a centralized management console for your IT technicians. If your primary IT technician that manages the Unified Communications is out of the office at grandma’s house and there is an issue, this technician would need to VPN in and provide support. If its in the cloud, all this technician needs to do is use grandma’s computer and access an HTTPS site to manage the entire Unified Communications platform, all from remote with no VPN.
Unified Communications can also connect your team collaboration web sharing sessions for online meetings as well. If you have a web conference coming up and you’re the host or attendant, the Unified Communications solution can call you on your cell phone. Once you answer the call, the conference bridge starts immediately. No access codes to type in, no phone numbers to remember, let the system call you regardless of where you’re at. This makes working within your business much easier as you move around the world growing your business.
It’s easier than you think…
As you build your business network or apply process improvements to your existing business network, you need to think about, “how can we get communication resources better to the end-users to make their work life easier?”
Phone number dialing and call routing becomes much easier and sourcing localized phone numbers using a cloud PBX provider allows your business to scale globally.
As you start to build a cloud Unified Communication’s solution, SaaS providers have made it easy to integrate into other systems so expanding your business becomes scalable.