atlantic-it-collaboration1According to research firm IDC, the mobile workforce accounts for well over a third of the total U.S. workforce. By 2020, nearly three-quarters of U.S. workers will be mobile, meaning that more than 105 million employees will perform at least some of their job functions using smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

Clearly, the number of workers who sit in an office from 8 to 5 is dwindling. Organizations need to take steps to ensure that mobile workers have the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. Communication and collaboration becomes particularly important, but legacy phone systems simply weren’t designed to support today’s highly mobile workforce.

As we discussed in a previous post, modern IP phone systems integrate a number of real-time collaboration tools that can be accessed via mobile devices. These unified communications (UC) capabilities help to boost productivity, speed decision-making and enhance customer service. Mobile-enabled collaboration tools make employees more accessible and interactions more flexible. IP phone systems can also integrate with other business applications, enabling employees to easily access needed information and communicate more effectively with customers and suppliers.

A key feature of the latest IP phone systems is “presence.” Presence provides a simple way for mobile workers to find the right people, and to see if they are available and what device they are using. UC capabilities then make it easy for users to access voice, instant messaging, video and conferencing features, so they can collaborate using their preferred method or device. In fact, many organizations find that UC enables them to transform key business processes with improved communication flows.

Of course, simply installing an IP phone system will not achieve these results. As a first step to creating a successful unified communications implementation, Gartner advises organizations to begin with important but not mission-critical tasks and assess needs based on the individual (e.g. time spent away from the office), not purely on job title or role. This will help organizations identify the collaboration technologies that should be rolled out to various groups of users.

Gartner also recommends identifying “killer applications” that help maximize the productivity benefits to be gained from UC technologies. For example, the solution should enable flexible switching among various communications media and tools. This allows users to change communication channels (such as from instant messaging to voice to video) during a single interaction, and add or reduce the number of participants without ending and restarting the session.

Effective management is a key consideration when implementing a UC platform. Organizations must take steps to ensure Quality of Service (QoS) across the combined voice, video and data environment.

As the workforce becomes increasingly mobile, and business processes involve interactions with partners, customers and geographically dispersed teams, organizations should re-examine their communication and collaboration strategies in order to better support today’s business activities and objectives. Contact, your outsourced IT department, to discuss how unified communications and collaboration tools can help improve employee productivity, augment business processes and provide competitive advantages.

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I'm currently a junior at Rutgers University, majoring in Human Resources with a minor in Music. My love for music has already led me to an associates degree in Music from Raritan Valley Community College.