Does your team need a cloud-based unified communication and collaboration tool?

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The debate is over and the cloud won. Most businesses have left their fancy PBX phone systems behind and moved to a unified communications (UC) system that exists entirely in the cloud, because they don’t want to be tied to a particular location to communicate. For today’s distributed and hybrid workforce, cloud-based business communications and collaboration tools make sense.

If your team is clinging to phones on their desks or your IT team is reluctant to support yet another cloud solution, it’s time to let go, especially if your company is embracing a hybrid working model. Not only is that phone likely to collect dust, but UCs have become the technical glue that holds people together when in-person collaboration is challenging. If not implemented, the entire business is likely to come to a halt.

Hybrid work is the way to go

Distributed work isn’t new, of course, but creating a full hybrid workforce presents unique technical challenges for IT. With some workers coming into the office, at least sometimes, and others staying completely remote, teams are increasingly relying on a variety of communication tools to replace in-person connections.

According to a recent economist impact study Commissioned by Google Workspace, more than 75% of respondents believe hybrid or flexible working will be standard within their organizations in the next three years. a 2020 ibm studio also found that 75% of employees want to continue working remotely, at least occasionally, while 54% want work from home as their primary way of working. With the exception of service companies and those that require a physical presence, the hybrid is here to stay. It’s good for the workers. And since it puts fewer cars on the road, it’s good for the planet.

As hybrid working becomes the way forward, IT departments are under enormous pressure to adopt technologies that help employees work and collaborate in this new environment. Legacy communication systems and monolithic software solutions were designed for a workforce that meets in the same place. Since that’s no longer the case, their teams have no choice but to ditch them and adopt tools that work from anywhere, just like the people who use them do.

This means implementing tools that enable effective internal and external communication to make it easy for distributed workers and teams to collaborate from anywhere. This is where cloud-based unified communications solutions shine. The combination of voice, text messaging, video meetings and more, cloud-based UC or Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), improves worker productivity and efficiency. Capabilities like video conferencing, team workspaces, virtual whiteboards, and document and screen sharing allow your teams to work effectively from any location or time zone.

These tools vary in cost, but you can expect to pay anywhere from around $20 per user per month for basic calls and messages to more than $60 per user per month for calls, messages, meetings, video, and more.

UC is no longer just a phone service

Providing mobile workers with communication services that fit their mobile work styles, UCaaS solutions seamlessly integrate multiple locations and connect mobile workers with features their desk phone could never dream of. The UC tools that businesses are adopting today go far beyond basic VoIP phones. They consolidate calling, messaging (think business instant messaging), meetings, team collaboration, file sharing, mobile access from any browser, and more, into one tool that helps improve internal communications and as well as the productivity of workers.

New AI capabilities that have emerged in the last two or three years have further enhanced UCaaS solutions, especially for meetings and conferences. These intelligent systems reduce background noise, understand natural language so they can provide meeting summaries and highlights, and automatically assign tasks to meeting attendees based on conversations. These tools greatly enhance the meeting experience. As many workers are no longer in the same physical office with their colleagues and face-to-face meetings are becoming less frequent, these tools bridge the gap and improve internal and external collaboration.

Cloud communications and the great pivot

Cloud communications solutions have proven their worth during the pandemic. Organizations already using them were able to quickly move to remote work without missing a beat, while those not yet using them struggled to stay in touch and be productive.

Here are some examples of published case studies:

  • Interstate batteries used the Vonage Communications Platform (VPC) to transform the way employees communicate and operate from the office or on the go, providing flexibility and ensuring business continuity. He was able to enable teams to quickly switch to remote and keep 600+ employees in touch, securely.
  • Bennett International, the sixth largest specialized transportation company in North America, connects 3,000 employees and contractors through RingCentral MVP (message, video, phone) cloud solution. It doesn’t matter where anyone is working, because the team’s contacts, video capability and messaging are on everyone’s phone and computer.
  • The Department of Seine-Saint Denis in France uses Avaya Spaces to facilitate communication between its 8,000 employees and partners without location restrictions. That tool’s video conferencing and other collaboration capabilities are available on any device, and team members can create public or private workspaces, share and store files, and manage project tasks. For example, Spaces makes it easy to visualize workflows through a Kanban board, allowing teams to collectively prioritize and track task progress.

Delving into a hybrid world will likely further change the way we communicate and collaborate with customers, colleagues, partners and suppliers. Once UC tools become the norm, location won’t matter. Cloud communications and collaboration make it possible to create and break up virtual teams simply by bringing them into a virtual workspace where they can collaborate and connect with colleagues via voice or video. Starting a new R&D project, a new marketing campaign, or brainstorming a customer problem is a matter of inviting the right people into a workspace to chat, hold conferences, and share ideas and documents. And because everything is cloud-based, workers can access the workspace and content from any location or device.

All of this leads to higher productivity for hybrid teams. General studies show increased user productivity thanks to cloud communications and collaboration. Companies have found 10% to 25% improvements in productivity from cloud communications and collaboration, resulting in faster project completion, more effective problem resolution, and greater productivity. innovation.

Which tool to choose?

There is no shortage of new offerings in this space from a growing list of cloud communications providers. From household names like Microsoft, Google, and Zoom, to specialists like 8×8, Avaya, Dialpad, Edify, Intermedia, Mitel, Nextiva, RingCentral, GoTo, and Vonage, businesses have plenty of options.

And the vendor community continues to add more capabilities and functionality. As cloud communication services continue to improve, you can expect to see AI capabilities like real-time transcription and language translation within your meetings to improve collaboration among a global base of employees.

The old way of working is changing and requires new tools and approaches. As workers continue to redefine what spaces they will use for an office, they will increasingly turn to cloud-based communication and collaboration tools to stay in touch with colleagues, clients, and partners. For the new hybrid and distributed workforce, the cloud is the way to go.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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