When it comes to today’s workforce, the name of the game is flexibility. By 2020, mobile workers will account for nearly three-quarters (72.3 percent) of the U.S. workforce. That’s the forecast from IDC. Specifically, the analyst firm estimated last June that the number of mobile workers will rise from 96.2 million to 105.4 million over the next five years.
However, not all mobile workers are created equally. In its report, IDC defines office-based mobile workers as those whose primary workplace is an office environment, which can be either a corporate or home location. Mobile professionals, occasionally mobile workers, mobile non-travelers, and telecommuters fall into this category. There also are non-office-based mobile workers. Their primary workplace is on location or in the field.
Whatever category your small business mobile workers fall into – maybe both – the bottom line is that they need to stay connected to your small business data, to each other and to customers no matter where they are. Here’s here Unified Communications (UC) comes in. UC is a platform to integrate desk phones, PCs, smartphones and tablets into one data andvoice network so that all of your devices can talk to each other digitally. UC also provides a host of collaboration tools, including e-mail, instant messaging, conferencing and fax, which are accessible through the convenience of one interface, eliminating the time it takes to check the inboxes of multiple devices. You also can easily control the data and relay any or all of it to others at your convenience.
UC features aid mobile workers
While UC vendors offer a host of features to differentiate their platforms there are some features that are particularly important to mobile workers to aid collaboration and communication and to maintain a high level of productivity. These features include:
Unified messaging: With unified messaging, you don’t need to check all of your communication devices to get the messages you receive – email, voicemail, video messages, SMS, and more. They are available in one inbox, and you can retrieve all of them from anywhere. For example, unified messaging could send a voice message to your universal inbox where you could 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. If you want to share the message with someone, you can easily forward it on.
Instant messaging: Instant messaging (IM) sometimes call chat enables mobile workers to conduct a text conversation with another mobile worker or someone back in the office; some platforms even enable group chat. With some UC platforms, you can include images, web links and files to the message. IM is particularly useful if someone is on the phone with a customer and needs to get input from a colleague and stay on the call.
Presence: Presence lets you know the status and availability of the person you are trying to reach and vice versa. In a UC system, presence can be integrated across all your communication devices, including IP (over the Internet) desk phones, email, IM and IP softphones. Some UC capabilities also let you know when someone’s mobile device is turned on or off. Presence not only enhances communication and collaboration; it increases productivity. If a call from a customer comes in that requires your mobile worker to check with sales or a technician, presence indicates if that person is available. If not, the person can try someone else.
Web and video conferencing: Web conferencing enables you to share a presentation between meeting participants, conduct training, give a lecture or hold an event wherever participants are. By integrating audio conference capabilities with web conferencing – and increasingly with video conferencing – you make it easier for everyone involved to participate since they don’t have dial in and join online separately. You also can call out to someone else to join the meeting if a question or issue comes up. By adding a screen sharing application to your integrated conferencing, members of your team in different locations can even work together to develop a presentation or document.
One number reach: Often called Find Me/Follow Me, it’s the capability that lets you choose one number to give out – it can even be a virtual number. When someone dials that number, the IP telephony system routes the calls to numbers you have selected – office phone, mobile number, home phone or other — at the same time or sequentially. If, after routing the call to all the numbers, you still don’t answer; the system will leave the call in your voice mail.
Get UCaaS with Plantronics audio solutions
Plantronics Device-as-a-Service Pro makes it easy to acquire Plantronics products along with a complete 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/.