Today’s workers are making it clear that they feel more productive working outside of the office when it comes to important work-related projects. (See: “Small business employees feel more productive working remotely, survey finds”). In response, small businesses need to ensure employees can connect and collaborate over a range of devices whenever and wherever they are to maximize productivity.
Research conducted last year by IDG Enterprise found that 56 percent of enterprises and 66 percent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) had plans to implement or upgrade Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) solutions in 2016. Extending UC capabilities to remote users can help boost their productivity, ensuring a more efficient use of their time.
However, to be effective, mobile UC needs to provide remote workers with the same experience as those working on site. The key to mobile UC, therefore, is a mobile-first strategy based on a simplified interface that runs across a range of mobile devices and provides a seamless experience. In this way, users won’t end up with a mix of communication, collaboration, and connectivity applications that don’t work well together.
Mobile UC features
Today many UC vendors offer native mobile UC clients for smartphones and tablets. Some are free. Functionality across vendors varies, however. With a basic mobile UC system, employees should be able to forward calls from a desk phone to their mobile devices. They also should be able to access email, voicemail and company directories from smartphones and tablets.
More fully featured UC mobile apps integrate audio, video and web conferencing and support presence, which tells the user if someone they need to reach is available to talk or chat. Another useful feature is one number ring, which enables a call to ring on a number of phones – desk at the office, mobile or home phone – until someone answers or the call goes to voicemail. One number ring – also called Find me/Follow me – means someone never misses a call.
Mobile UC platforms also should ensure that business and personal information are kept separate. As an example, if someone using a personal mobile device for work places a call, the recipient should only be able to see the company’s business number caller ID.
Choose the right mobile UC solution
Before making an investment in mobile UC, small businesses need to evaluate what systems currently are in place and what they need to replace or upgrade. Writing for TechTarget, Nemertes Research analyst Philip Clarke suggests several questions to ask to make the processing of integrating mobile UC most effective. Among them:
- Analyze long and short-term requirements: Consider what users are asking for that you aren’t providing today, such as how mobile is the workforce and how many BYOD and/or company devices will need to be supported? Other questions to ask are what types of apps are running and what apps are planned for the future. If you have a UC platform in place, you’ll need to know to what extent it will have to integrate with new apps in terms of management and security?
- Evaluate vendor roadmaps: Know what vendors are delivering that you haven’t already addressed. Also find out what vendor roadmaps and go-to-market strategies align with your small business needs and how vendors are adapting to trends, i.e., integrating with apps that your employees prefer.
- Develop a roadmap: The roadmap should include high level milestones that must be achieved to transform your small business collaboration environment.
Get UCaaS with Plantronics audio solutions
Plantronics Device-as-a-Service Pro makes it easy to acquire Plantronics products along with a complete cloud-based Unified Communications-as-a-Service solution. The program bundles UCaaS offerings and Plantronics UC audio devices from the Voyager®, Savi® and Blackwire® families or the CS540 into flexible 12- 24-or 36-month payment options. With Plantronics Device-as-a-Service Pro, you can easily scale usage up or down to align with changes in business. You also can match the right audio device with team members’ work styles to enhance the UCaaS experience.
For information about Plantronics Device-as-a-Service Pro, visit: http://www.plantronics.com/us/daas-pro/.