How Unified Communications Empowers Mobile Workforces
As smartphones and tablets become more affordable, the business world is becoming more mobile. By 2020, mobile workers will make up three-quarters of the workforce, predicts researcher IDC, just one indication that mobile-first is quickly gaining ground as a primary means of communication for organizations of all sizes.
Yet embracing a mobile workforce can present challenges for both companies and employees. If mobile devices aren’t integrated into an organization’s phone system, for example, frustrations can build up easily. Calls may be dropped, access to critical customer data can be inconsistent – or nonexistent – and security can be compromised.
None of that will help a business stay competitive. Indeed, without integration, these glitches can have the opposite effect.
To increase productivity in a mobile-first world, organizations must incorporate the requirements of mobile workers into their specifications when choosing a phone system. In fact, the key to success isn’t so much the phone system as it is a unified communications (UC) platform that offers flexibility, security and a seamless user experience.
Here are seven mobile-first requirements to look for when selecting a UC solution.
- Device Integration. The platform should allow your company to integrate employees’ favorite devices with its existing phone system. This includes smartphones, tablets and wearables as well as both Android and iOS operating systems.
- Application Integration. Without access to critical applications, mobile workers can be frustrated by disconnect. That’s why application integration is essential to reaching productivity goals. Regardless of their location, employees should be able to easily access their colleagues’ calendars, resolve problems through instant messaging, chat face-to-face with peers, and access customer data even when they’re away from their desk.
- Simplicity. The user experience should be simple and seamless. For instance, with ShoreTel Connect, mobile workers can view a “today” screen that displays scheduled audio conference calls. They can connect immediately using a simple “join” button. The screen also supports ShoreTel Conferencing, allowing iOS users to participate fully in collaboration sessions, viewing spreadsheets, presentations and work sessions from their colleagues’ desktops.
- Security. Organizations shouldn’t have to abandon simplicity to have maximum security. A UC solution should provide both. ShoreTel uses proven standards for authentication and encryption with X.509 digital certificates and AES-256 encryption. This allows the system to recognize when users are outside the enterprise firewall, and automatically launches an application-layer SSL VPN in response. A seamless experience for the user, it offers the strongest security available.
- Dual Persona. When mobile workers bring their own devices, mixing personal and business communications seems inevitable. A “dual persona” solution allows users to separate the two. With distinct identities, employees will never give a customer their personal mobile number again, and if they leave the company, customer data doesn’t leave with them.
- Connectivity. Whether the organization supports BYOD (bring your own device), CYOD (choose your own device) or COPE (company-owned, personal-enabled), employees should be able to stay connected from any location around the world on any network – Wi-Fi, 3G/4G, or cellular.
- Least-Cost Routing. When employees are mobile, they can incur expensive charges if calls are routed inefficiently. With least-cost routing, cellular calls are sent via the cheapest path both inside and outside the enterprise. ShoreTel is one of the only companies to offer VoIP over WLAN on leading Apple iOS and Android devices, thus lowering costs by avoiding cellular charges.
By factoring in mobile worker requirements, organizations can deploy a unified communications platform that meets the needs of both mobile and office-based workers – and satisfies the concerns of their IT teams. As the business world becomes mobile-first, organizations that embrace mobile integration early will find themselves with a competitive edge.