The desire for better enterprise mobility is often cited as a core driver for unified communications deployments. As the needs for greater productivity and access to information increase, companies are leveraging mobility strategies to make employees and business communications more efficient. Mobile unified communications is the next step toward enterprise mobility, improving communications for a continually changing workforce.
The North American workforce is quickly changing into a labor pool of knowledge workers –people who contribute to the bottom line by consuming, managing and processing information from various sources. As the marketplace continues a global expansion, more workers will spend more time away from their desks – whether in the building or on the road – yet still need to communicate in real time, anytime, from any location. To improve employee productivity, companies will need to equip workers with the mobile technology that keeps them connected to the people and information they need at all times.
Mobile UC is the next step in the evolution of business communications. With wireless technology becoming more secure and reliable over the past decade, enterprises are more confident about extending UC beyond the desktop. With mobile UC, users can consolidate and control multiple methods of communication from a single application that provides a similar experience on both fixed and mobile networks and devices.
A few short years ago, the idea of mobile UC faced numerous barriers. Smartphones, for example, were capable of running many of the day-to-day applications on which employees have come to depend. Many of them, however, had then and still have today closed models that are not compatible with multiple operating systems, requiring vendors to develop against numerous models. However, with the introduction of the iPhone (News - Alert) and Android-based touch-screen devices, the mobile Web has exploded in popularity. Mobile UC and collaboration over the Web is now a viable option as mobile UC apps are already available from numerous vendors. Of course, users still are limited to the reliability of the carrier network, but this should improve as operators continue to invest in networks.
With this progression, companies can do more to move their business mobility initiatives forward. Begin by adopting a standards-based, open architecture, communications platform. With many elements surrounding enterprise mobility still yet to be determined, an open architecture puts the enterprise in a position to better respond to however things may shake out. Open architecture solutions can be easily integrated into other systems. They also allow companies to use standards-based components to design a solution that specifically meets their needs now and as new options become available in the future.
With new technologies and applications emerging at an unprecedented rate, it is imperative to partner with solutions providers that are expertly versed in integration. While the solution itself is obviously important, enterprises get more value from manufacturers and solution providers that are capable of bringing together a number of disparate UC, telephony and wireless components. The best system integrators will have a team of engineers and technicians with a proven ability to create a single, end-to-end solution customized for a company’s specific environment.
While the manufacturer or solution developer is obviously important, system integrators should have a team of experienced engineers and technicians capable of bringing a number of disparate UC, telephony and wireless solutions together for a single, end-to-end solution. The best integrators have expertise in both interoperability and in use of APIs and toolkits to customize new mobile UC solutions for a company’s specific environment. They also have customers who can vouch for their experience, and the financial stability to ensure they will be around now and in the future.
Not all mobile corporate users are the same; and an effective mobile UC strategy recognizes diverse needs. Since effective communications is a prerequisite to business-process efficiency, consult with customers on a mobility strategy that focuses on employees based on their specific role within a specific business process. By analyzing and profiling employees at a more individual level, companies implement the mobile solutions that best meet the needs of both the organization and its workforce.
As the concept of work becomes more of an activity vs. a place, companies are motivated to make mobility an integral piece of its technology strategy. Unified communications will be a key ingredient to improving mobility within the enterprise. Companies can take a number of measures to better prepare now and as enterprise mobility evolves over time.
Jay Krauser is general manager and senior technology strategist for NEC (News - Alert) Corp. of America (www.necam.com ).
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi