If you haven’t noticed the impact of smartphones and BYOD in the workplace, you are officially living in the past. The combination of the shift from personal computers to mobile devices and the adoption of cloud computing is ultimately leading to a “personal cloud era” that will shift the focus from individual devices to services. The wireless revolution has helped drive the adoption of cloud-based applications, giving people secure and reliable access to content to get their jobs done anywhere, anytime.
“The release of the iPhone (News - Alert) five years ago marked a shift towards a mobile-dominated future,” said Mitchell Smith, research VP, Gartner. “With phones and tablets becoming a platform for the delivery of applications and information – and not simply a communications tool – the era of running applications solely on desktop and notebook PCs is rapidly being superseded by a fast-moving, diverse era of ecosystems that span consumer electronics, business computing, fixed-location clients and mobile clients.”Content is streaming into companies faster than their ability to absorb and understand its full value, presenting challenges for company CIOs. IT must enable worker productivity and is entrusted with protecting the enterprise and all of its assets. Companies don’t have a lot of resources or time to invest in effective ways to address this problem.
Secondly, the tools promised to make us more productive have made communications more complex. There are multiple ways to get in contact with someone; voicemails for office phones, cell phones and home phones, video chat, text messaging, instant messaging and a number of social channels. Workers can spend half their day tracking down all of these mediums, filtering incoming information and correspondence, contacting others and scheduling meetings. Knowledge workers could regain an hour per day through more productive communication activities.
An effective way to approach these challenges and actually make these unified communications, well, unified is the cloud. Cloud-based communications allows users to access information from any device and from any location, affecting how users access features to collaborate and make decisions faster.
By seeking cloud-based VoIP, unified communications and associated applications, companies can ensure a flexible and fluid IT environment that directly and indirectly helps everyone communicate, while allowing IT to manage costs and reduce complexity. By moving to a cloud model, companies benefit from using a common set of standards to connect different collaboration tools and applications from different vendors. This means CIOs can create a bridge, based on Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert) (SIP), bringing together disparate communication solutions and leveling the competitive playing field because they won’t be locked into using one vendor’s proprietary solution which promise a unified approach, but can’t truly deliver an open-standards type capability.
Mobile interfaces are defining usability, appearance and behavior of applications and systems. The use of audio and video that includes spoken searches and application actions, as well as in-air gestures, is on the rise. Video has led to the development of facial recognition, and application developers are wise to take note of this.
For active company directories (ACDs), a user now has the option to interact by e-mail, phone, video session, text or IM – all through a cloud-based application.
With truly unified communications, companies have the potential to reclaim up to 23 percent of a knowledge worker’s productivity lost on inefficient communications. That’s a potential savings of $13,000 per year, per knowledge worker. For a CIO who needs to reduce the cost of IT, that is a significant impact and a strong case for a new approach to unified communications.
Edited by Brooke Neuman