The rapid adoption of mobility in the business world has led to the overwhelming growth of mobile devices and applications. This has resulted in all mobile employees requiring integrated and intelligent communications tools to reduce the clutter of data, voice, instant messaging, and other types of communications.
Khwinisa Technologies MD, Cecil Mashawana, says organisations worldwide have used powerful new technologies such as the Internet, IP communications, and mobility to improve their business processes.
“Although there is an explosion of ways to reach fellow employees – mobile phone, e-mail messaging, instant messaging and voicemail – employees still cannot reach one another efficiently.”
The result is delays in business processes as project participants must wait for returned phone calls or e-mail messages before proceeding. Unified communications (UC), which includes IP telephony, unified messaging, customer contact, Web and video conferencing, and presence technology, is dramatically helping businesses communicate more efficiently.
He says delayed communications, playing the back-and-forth game and waiting for responses to e-mail messages, can be frustrating and costly.
“The inability to reach co-workers or partners in realtime results in delays in completing projects; providing information to clients or providing approvals in the normal course of business that can have negative business consequences. It can negatively affect a company’s ability to be responsive to customer needs and can result in reduced revenue both today and in the future.”
The growing use of mobile devices has not reduced this problem and, in fact, may be exacerbating it. As more people own multiple devices, ranging from laptop computers to mobile phones to mobile e-mail devices, they spend more time managing their communications across different phone numbers, voice mailboxes, and e-mail accounts, limiting their ability to accomplish work efficiently.
Until recently, the demand for mobility might have applied only to a few employees such as highly mobile workers who needed access to resources wherever they were. Today, the demand for mobile and wireless technologies in business is pervasive.
Business sectors across the globe, from retail businesses to warehouses to field service technicians, have embraced mobile phones, smartphones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), wireless-equipped laptop computers, and other devices for their convenience, portability, and efficiency.
Whether they spend most of their time in an office or on the road, most business professionals carry a mobile phone. According to a recent study by IDC, enterprise telecommunications managers believe that as many as 28% of their employees are using a mobile phone as their primary work phone.
Also, retail stores not only have IP phones next to cash registers; they may also equip employees with wireless IP phones clipped to their belts for receiving alerts or for running stocking applications. Salespeople working remotely use laptop computers with WiFi and softphones at hotels or airports to download e-mail messages or speak directly with clients or colleagues.
Audio conferences are also increasingly conducted over mobile phones, smartphones, or laptop computers running softphone applications.
As mobility is increasingly woven into the fabric of enterprise activities, companies need to make mobile communications more intelligent.
This intelligence will allow employees to more easily place calls, screen unwanted calls, use presence to determine whether a fellow employee is available, send text messages as well as voice messages, and consolidate voicemail and messages into one visual interface on their mobile handsets.
Intuitive interfaces and integrated features will let employees more easily reach other people and respond to time-sensitive tasks rather than waste time struggling with poorly integrated information or disconnected devices.
To resolve these challenges, enterprises need a tight coupling of the many types of mobility solutions that employees use with an integrated and secure UC system. UC offers these benefits, combining the convenience, flexibility, and ubiquitous reach of mobile communications with the collaborative, secure, and managed benefits of UC.
The key to this integration is the ability to meet the demands of a diverse workforce that requires different device approaches to accomplish different jobs and tasks.
Office professionals, for example, who spend most of their time at a desk may be served best with an IP phone and modest mobility capability, such as the single-business-number-reach feature that rings a mobile phone when the professional steps away from the office.
Office bound employees, on the other hand, such as managers, manufacturing workers, healthcare professionals, and retail associates, who spend significant time in meetings, in operation settings, or away from traditional office environments, may need a different option. This option could include smartphones or wireless IP phones in addition to desktop-based IP phones and single-business-number-reach services.
Mashawana says mobile workers and those who work from a variety of locations may need softphone-equipped laptop computers and feature-rich smartphones.
“Solutions that combine an intuitive interface with powerful features of integrated directory information, presence, single business number reach, calling features, secure text messaging, and conferencing.”
The power of UC is that all the phones and devices are part of a system that is secure and managed by the enterprise.
The combination of UC and mobility greatly enhances employee effectiveness by reducing complexity; supporting the use of a single business number and voice mailbox; allowing employees to transition communications more easily between voice calls, voicemail, e-mail messaging, and instant messaging; and improving an employees’ ability to find the desired person or information immediately, wherever they are.