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Unified comms has to be simple, stupid: Part 1

The ability to communicate via any one of a variety of modes, or a combination of them, is one thing. Making that simple and convenient for the user is another.

The success of Unified Communications in the enterprise rests on the ability for solution providers to create an appealing user experience akin to the one we enjoy on our smartphones: simple, easy and reliable.

Donovan Jackson examines the issues in a four-part feature.

Take a quick look at your smartphone: That’s a unified communications device right there, capable of voice, video, email, text and data communication.

While readily accepted by consumers, unified communication (UC) in the enterprise is a slightly different kettle of fish – and that’s largely owing to the complexity which comes with scale. But what remains consistent regardless of where UC is introduced is the necessity for convenience and ease of use which individuals have come to expect from modern technology.

According to Polycom NZ MD Gary Denman, UC is driven to some extent by the consumerisation of IT.

“Bring your own device [BYOD] has a huge impact as these mobile devices and the ‘micro app’ model makes technology accessible to a broad audience," he says.

"That has an impact on corporate IT; the technology we have at home is at least as amazing as that which we have at work.”

Where UC is concerned, this means the mass market is applying the concept in their daily lives, even if they don’t call it that.

“Certainly, the availability of all these modes is changing the way people communicate. And they want to communicate in the same way when they are at work,” says Denman.

Of course, for the corporate CIO or the individual controlling the purse strings, providing fun and engaging communication to the end user isn’t as much a driver as is achieving benefits which bolster the bottom line.

But Denman believes those benefits are becoming apparent. “New Zealand is a developing market for the true integration of all types of communications mediums into a central environment,” he says.

Describing a ‘surge of momentum’, Denman says the first phase is the introduction of presence and instant messenger systems. He also says that in the early years, finding a direct business benefit could be tricky, “but when you switch it [UC] off, that’s when the business case will be apparent.”

For part two click here, part three click here and for the next installment visit Techday on Thursday