What do you do when you want to accelerate the adoption of an emerging technology? Well, for one thing, you get industry experts, consultants, vendors and end users together to talk about it.  (It’s all the better when the venue is a beautiful hotel in La Jolla, Calif.) This is exactly what happened this week at UCStrategies’ UC Summit 2015 where some 200 industry representatives met to discuss the role of Unified Communications (UC) – the technology platform that integrates voice, video and presence – in improving business operations and enhancing applications so that companies large and small can do business better.

Plantronics was very pleased to be one of the sponsors of the UC Summit 2015 since our growing portfolio of audio solutions supports the many audio dependent functions of UC implementations. Conferences such as these give us the opportunity to learn about new UC strategies and end user deployments so that we can continue to develop products to support evolving platform  capabilities and customer needs.

Key issues

Among the key UC issues conference attendees identified were:

Growing need for mobility: Mobile apps and devices and cloud computing allow workers access to company information wherever they are. As such, mobility supports knowledge workers who may be working on the go or remotely all or part of the time. It also allows businesses to connect to their field workers so that they can better service customers on site. And used across a range of mobile devices, apps help sales personnel more easily collaborate and exchange needed information to answer customer questions and close deals.

Small businesses in particular indicate that mobility is necessary to make them more competitive. A survey of small businesses conducted a few years ago by CDW LLC found that 67 percent believe that their companies would lose competitive ground without mobile devices.

Communication needs to be seamless: Employees need to be able to stay connected to each other regardless of where they are, using the tools they prefer. At the same time, there is a growing need for seamless integration to customers, partners, vendors and others outside of the organization. The convergence of voice, video, and data communications around a shared IP-based infrastructure makes such seamless communication possible.

Wherever employees are, they can conveniently make a call, send a text message or email, conduct a chat session or launch a video conference to communicate and collaborate with each other, aided by presence, which lets them know a colleague is available. UC enhances communication with customers and others through its conferencing capabilities and by offering such features as one-number reach, which enables calls made to an IP phone to be routed to other phones – home, office or mobile – at the same time or sequentially until the user picks up or the caller leaves a message.

Integrated messaging enhances efficiency: Messaging continues to be an important part of an organization’s communication ecosystem. UC makes messaging even more efficient by eliminating the need for multiple inboxes to retrieve any type of message – voice message, video message, fax, SMS and more. As one example, UC makes it possible to receive a voice message via email with the option to play the message directly from the email; play an audio file attached to the email; or read a transcribed text of the message sent in the body of the email. Share the message by forwarding it on to one or more colleagues.

Millennials matter: By 2025 millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce, writes Dan Schwabel in “Why You Can’t Ignore Millennials. More important, millennials are driving new communication needs, since they want to work when and how they choose. UC and mobile devices answer the need for flexible work options.

UCaaS is on the rise. On-premise implementations of UC are on the decline. Customers are opting for Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) in which third party providers offer customers a host of communication and collaboration tools and applications over an IP network. Transparency Market Research attributes the rise in UCaaS to the demand for mobility, the growing penetration of mobile devices and the benefits offered by UCaaS solutions. The firm estimates that the global UCaaS market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 23.4% during the forecast period from 2014 to 2022, reaching a market size of US$ 37.85 billion by 2022.

To make it easy for small businesses to acquire Plantronics solutions along with UC and cloud services, Plantronics offers our Device-as-a-Service Pro program. It enables cloud service providers to serve as a one-stop-shop to provide a complete pay-as-you-go solution for UCaaS. The program bundles UCaaS and Plantronics UC audio devices from the Voyager®, Savi® and Blackwire® families into flexible 12- 24-or 36-month payment options. In addition to customer support, Plantronics handles logistics and financing for its audio products.

When it comes to realizing ROI on a UC investment, summit participants also emphasized that driving adoption is crucial. It involves proper education, training and understanding user needs.