Unified communications and collaboration (UCC) can help businesses improve productivity, efficiency, and collaboration while reducing costs. Many companies have voice over IP, audio conferencing, and email implemented already, but have not traveled much further on the UCC roadmap. According to a recent survey, 79 percent of respondents utilize audio conferencing solutions, 76 percent use Web conferencing, 73 percent use instant messaging (IM)/presence, 68 percent have implemented video conferencing, and 67 percent use screen sharing. In many cases, these solutions are from different vendors with different administration tools, operating systems, and user interfaces, so they do not always work together.
Today’s solution to this problem is in the cloud with solutions known as unified communications as a service (UCaaS), which provides service delivery without the integration issues. Research indicates that cloud applications and platforms will be at the leading edge of IT spending by 2016, with half of all enterprises implementing cloud solutions by 2017. UCaaS facilitates collaboration through video, IM/presence, chat, voice, file sharing, enterprise social media, and desktop sharing and provides for simpler accessibility through mobile devices. In addition, many service providers (SPs) are enabling integration with additional cloud-based applications like CRM, allowing business processes and unified communications applications to be better aggregated. Unifying all of these technologies and applications in order to improve collaboration is easier when done in the cloud. Here are three of the technologies that drive collaboration in the workplace when deployed as a service:
1. Video Conferencing
IT organizations spend a lot of time, money, and manpower trying to deploy video conferencing in-house due to hardware complexities, bandwidth limitations, and deployment methods. With video in the cloud, the SP will manage bandwidth for the customer, reducing the time spent by the internal IT staff. With video in the cloud, users can access video conferencing services anytime, from anywhere, without the company having to install video conferencing equipment in different locations. Cloud-based video conferencing can be deployed more rapidly than on-premises implementations, streamline applications that use video, protect investments already made in on-premises infrastructure, and offer capabilities for security, including content. Collaboration has never been easier or more cost-effective than with video conferencing in the cloud.
One of the biggest benefits of mobility in the cloud is that it provides anytime/anywhere access to corporate data and collaboration tools. Cloud-based delivery of UCaaS applications to mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, allows companies to yield even greater functionality and substance. Mobile users can collaborate via video or audio conferencing, through document sharing or IM/presence, not to mention via email. Enhancing mobile collaboration within the enterprise allows companies to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace by allowing their employees the ability to work from wherever they are.
3. Federated IM/Presence
UCaaS can help companies that have different UCC systems in different locations communicate easily. Federation services in the cloud help facilitate secure IM/presence between these locations without additional hardware being required. Companies with multiple vendors for these tools can protect their existing investment by using secure cloud services in order to provide IM/presence across locations without switching out their equipment. Eventually, more services will become federated in the cloud, including voice, video, and calendars.
UCaaS in the cloud is the place to be in 2016 and beyond for companies that want to start or continue down the UCC roadmap. UCaaS allows companies to implement collaboration solutions for less money up front, with the ability to tie together multiple locations and support mobile users and to reduce IT staff time and manpower. Value-added resellers (VARs) should start by talking to multi-location and highly mobile customers who can benefit from tools that offer a high level of collaboration using video and IM/presence. Industries that are prime for UCaaS include sales organizations, technology companies, hospitals and medical facilities, services companies, and educational institutions. VARs and SPs that sell UCaaS services have an excellent opportunity in this growing market in 2016 and beyond.
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