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Unified Comms - It has to be simple, stupid: Part 4

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.

The power of presence

Microsoft solutions specialist Paul Dolley says presence is a big deal. While Denman has introduced the concept of the video dial tone, Dolley says presence is the pervasive dial tone of UC.

He explains why: “Regardless of the communication mode which is being used, it is all based around presence.

"That shows whether the person you’re contacting is online or offline, what their calendar indicates they are busy with, whether they should be contacted on their mobile or their office devices.”

Presence, says Dolley, provides for making informed choices when communicating – and that, he says, adds a lot of value in the enterprise.

“It’s the 21st century dial tone; with presence, it is no longer about contacting devices and hoping to get hold of people, it is now a people-centric model.”

UC, continues Dolley, is about a lot more than just convenience.

“Yes, there is a good deal of that which is appealing, but it should also solve business issues, especially in terms of ‘lost’ or ‘dead’ communications," he says.

"Used properly, for example, UC results in voicemail going down by 70%, because when communication is initiated with presence as a guide, it tends to be successful more often.”

Ease of use is the ultimate test

What is clear across the concept of UC is that the tools provided at work have to be at least as good as those we al use on our personal devices. It is a big ask, since ‘one to one’ communication is far less complex than managing multiple users.

There is also the attendant overhead of security and performance for companies, which is not much of an issue for consumers (if FaceTime or Skype connects poorly, it is no big deal).

While convenience isn’t seen as a business case for unified communications, Aastra’s Warhurst says it is nevertheless critical if people are to adopt and use their UC solutions on the job.

“It’s actually all about convenience," he says.

"If the UC solution you put in is not easy and convenient to use, it does not work. It is as simple as that.”

For part one click here, part two click here and part three click here