The ins and outs of global UC collaboration

by Roberta J. Fox and Bill Elliott

Organizations no longer conduct business like they used to. Work life and personal life intersect, and people demand an evolution of collaboration tools to help them be more productive. In order for these tools to be effective, care must be taken to ensure proper integration with an organization’s existing applications, devices, network, business processes and more—and that requires the assistance of a global service provider partner who can pull it all together.

Who is driving the collaboration migration?The new millennial workforce is leading the charge for new ways of working. In addition, the concept of “work-life integration” rather than “work-life balance” is taking hold, with work occurring wherever people happen to be. This requires new tools so workers can be mobile and social, while using the communications channels and collaboration applications that are most effective in their business.

As a result, businesses must adapt to fit these habits. For example, according to a PWC.com survey, most millennials expect the flexibility to work wherever and whenever it suits them. The ability to work virtually seamlessly from any location has significant appeal for all types of businesses. And, as many organizations operate in a global environment, they need to be able to connect and collaborate with business partners around the world regardless of time zone.

Challenges for organizations and the need for integration

Many organizations have turned to a variety of collaboration solutions to meet the demands of the emerging business marketplace and be more productive. But there are often challenges. For example, Facebook and Twitter provide access to large numbers of people from a mass-market perspective, but they do not provide enterprise-level collaboration capabilities organizations need in order to conduct business safely.

Also, while cloud-based services often provide a quick and relatively inexpensive solution for collaboration capabilities, organizations—particularly large enterprises—must choose the platform and service providers that meet their needs for connectivity and smooth integration with various business applications.

A recent project at AT&T for a global organization provides a clear example of this. In this case, the client required a global collaboration solution to help increase productivity and mitigate travel costs for its global workers. The plan included the ability to integrate with Cisco IP Phones and Cisco Jabber, as well as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in an open-concept workspace. By leveraging AT&T UC Voice, the organization was able to integrate 4,000 users from locations around the world into a common communications platform. What’s more, the project plan allowed for easy migration from legacy to the collaboration-enabled environment.

Working with the right service provider makes a difference

In many large organizations, experienced IT professionals may struggle with the complex integration required for the various collaboration tools, but working with an experienced service provider can help. Finding a global service provider that can provide the needed collaboration tools, in addition to the enterprise security and scalability that’s required, plus the integration to the organization’s existing tools, devices, applications and business processes is a large order—as there are only a small handful of companies that can fulfill these needs.

The choice of service provider should, in part, be based on their ability to identify options for deployments and to enable integration with existing systems. It’s also important for the service provider to have relationships with the technology providers and be able to integrate with both cloud and premises-based solutions to create a hybrid solution that works for the customer.

Another solution, beyond AT&T UC Voice already mentioned, is AT&T Collaborate™. It provides a suite of collaboration services that includes voice, video, IM, presence and conferencing. Highly secure access for the network is also key, and this can be handled by AT&T NetBond®, which provides a flexible and simple method for mission-critical applications. Collaboration tools such as Microsoft® Office 365 from AT&T deliver the value that today’s organizations require in order to remain competitive within the consumer and business marketplaces.

Conclusion

Organizations that fail to adapt to this new paradigm run the risk of losing relevancy, as well as losing ground in the competition for the best employees. Working with the right service provider to pull everything together is paramount. Recognizing these issues and providing workers with the collaboration tools and capabilities they need will give businesses 20/20 vision for organizational development.

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