enterprisenetworkingmag

What the Cloud Means for UC

By Joseph Laezza, SVP, UCC and Service Solutions, AVI-SPL

Joseph Laezza, SVP, UCC and Service Solutions, AVI-SPL

Nowadays, business collaboration and work are everywhere. You don’t have to come into the office to use the technology that makes you productive. What matters is the interaction and collaboration with your colleagues toward a common goal. Video, with its ability to convey personalization and real-time collaboration, is effective at bridging people and getting them to work together.

"Organizations need to make that leap to robust video collaboration solutions, they have to introduce new systems and ensure interoperability with existing systems"

Here’s the challenge for today’s companies recruiting and retaining the high-quality talent that makes a company successful. Without the technologies and services that empower their geographically dispersed staff to be accessible at any time, organizations will find it increasingly difficult to be competitive against those who use such resources.

The workforce and consumerization of technology continues to drive rapid technology changes in the workplace. So to maintain relevancy, workplaces turn to Unified Communications and Collaboration solutions.

The term “Unified Communications” implies a fully integrated and interoperable environment where different means of communication are connected in such a way that it’s easy to move from one to the other and maintain the sense of connectedness. In reality, it’s quite difficult to support disparate applications we’d like to “unify.” It’s challenging to implement a truly unified environment. But here’s the good news—if you focus on communications and collaboration as opposed to core operating systems such as those for financial or HR systems—where you have data to consider—the means by which we collaborate can be integrated and unified using the right solutions.

Why the Cloud’s Time is Now

Organizations typically consider making the move from on-premises solutions to cloud solutions because of cost savings, among other benefits. Beyond the cost, the benefits of applying cloud-based solutions are agility and the ability to evolve (or transform the workplace) and protection against technology obsolescence, without disrupting existing processes and the way people prefer to work.

In 2014, according to Wain house Research, there was a 50 percent increase in video communications among enterprises in 2014. The same report said that 75 percent of organizations had or were planning to deploy some form of UC.

Combine that movement with the projected remote worker base—by next year, it’s been predicted we’ll have 63 million telecommuters—the rapid pace of technology change and the pace of adoption, and the stage is set for more change in the workplace. By 2025, millennials—for whom interacting with technology is as natural as breathing—will comprise 75 percent of the workforce.

Dealing with Remote Worker Strategies

When you have that many technology-savvy remote workers, you need to address their needs within the context of corporate needs. And you can do that by enabling the right solution(s) to enable seamless, unifying collaboration among remote workers, branch offices, and corporate headquarters. Such solutions include endpoints of varying types—smart phones and room systems, for instance—that can connect with one another and don’t leave the user with the sense that something is lost because of their distance.

Democratizing Video with the Cloud

The cloud makes it possible to support video collaboration as part of UC & C in a much more widely accessible (democratized) way. By this I mean it can be delivered to an entire organization, often in stages to ensure adoption and work out any challenges before wider deployment. It enables the ability to connect remote users and offices, and outfit huddle spaces and executive rooms with video collaboration solutions without the need for heavy upfront design and infrastructure costs. In the end, those solutions can be rolled out to the entire organization in scale by simply buying additional seats or licenses, as opposed to spending on data centers, infrastructure, and networks.

Dealing with Legacy Systems

Organizations need to make that leap to robust video collaboration solutions, and they have to introduce new systems and ensure interoperability with existing systems. Mixed environments will continue to exist, and the cost is sometimes unreasonable, so the challenge is to achieve this on a reasonable budget and schedule with minimal disruption to the business. Cloud-based solutions can help achieve much of this goal, because there’s no need to build out a new infrastructure within the organization. All the worry of interoperability, of updating software, of supporting new systems as they come online can be handled remotely by a service provider managing that cloud platform.

Addressing the Need for a Unified Workplace

When it comes to creating a unified workplace that lends itself to collaboration, the savvy solution provider recognizes that not one size fits all. For some companies, an entirely cloud-based solution won’t work, so they may choose a mix of on-premise and the cloud. Some may be resistant to the cloud because of security concerns, but from my knowledge and discussions with the leading lights in this industry, even cloud-based solution security is rapidly evolving and will meet or exceed the requirements of closed on-premise solutions if they do not already do so.

Take the Standardized Approach

While “one size doesn’t fit all” is a smart way to approach solutions for different organizations, standardized implementations are the right starting point when addressing the locations and environments within a single enterprise. That guiding principle can make for a cloud-based UC & C initiative that works equally well for the remote and onsite worker, doesn’t require a hefty capex outlay, and doesn’t require the need to learn new technology depending on the room or office location. The cloud can accelerate an organization’s move toward implementing and unifying its collaboration systems by enabling fast scalability across the enterprise. That’s the kind of capability that will attract and retain your best employees and keep your organization on a path to continually grow and stay competitive.