Evolving your business communications strategy is crucial to success

According to Gartner, by 2017, about half of the world’s companies will have not only adopted BYOD programs but will have stopped providing computers and other devices to workers. With the increasing adoption of BYOD, it is no longer unusual for employees to adopt a new routine by using their own devices, such as smartphone, tablet and laptop, and company devices such as desk phone and PC, not to mention instant messaging and VoIP service, Twitter and LinkedIn. With this diverse range of systems and platforms running, does it really result in better communications? The answer is, shockingly, no.

Sixty-seven percent of MNCs agree that multiple platforms, networks and suppliers have made it harder for them to provide effective communications. This is aggravated by the dramatically changing nature of the workforce with IDC predicting that mobile workers are set to comfortably outnumber their fixed counterparts by 2016. With more and more workers spread out across different locations, often across geographical boundaries, a wide variety of different connection methods and providers, enterprises are at the risk of losing control of communications.

So what can businesses do? Broadly there are two options – either they can persist with the current system of separate fixed, mobile and online services, not to mention an on-site PBX, or they can move to cloud-based Unified Communications. The latter option is looking increasingly tempting by allowing enterprises to easily optimize and control communications while also cutting costs.

Unified Communications transform how voice, messaging and collaborative tools are managed. For instance, intelligent voice services bring fixed and mobile telephony together in a single platform so each user has a single incoming and outgoing phone number, voicemail and contact directory. It is completely customizable so users can control how and when their fixed, mobile or desktop phones ring.

Intelligent messaging services, as another example, mean a single voice mail box and corporate instant messenger (IM) service across all devices. This again prevents the possibility of a communications breakdown while also providing a corporate approved IM service that operates across all platforms.

These kinds of services are increasingly being augmented with tailored enterprise social media services so teams can easily collaborate on projects. In this way, employees can work anywhere, on any number of devices without compromising communications.

However, one key challenge often lies in the process of adopting Unified Communications, which is employee buy-in. The key to success is for business management to get employees’ input on their needs and frustrations so the services can be designed and tailored appropriately. It is not an easy task for MNCs who have operations and employees across the world.

The implementation of Unified Communications doesn’t just improve communications – it also saves costs. By putting all fixed, mobile and online communications services – as well as the software intelligence that links them together – through a single provider, businesses can make major savings through economies of scale. Moreover, by adopting a cloud approach, it will drastically reduce the need for on-site infrastructure, such as a PBX, so businesses can eliminate many routine maintenance, repair and upgrade costs. Vodafone OneNet Global Enterprise is one such solution, a cloud-based, hosted solution that integrates fixed and mobile telephony, messaging, fax, conferencing, desktop and enterprise social media in a single experience.

However, the key benefits for organizations extend beyond improved communications and cost savings. By removing the barriers to effective flexible working, enterprises can ensure their employees are no longer limited by device or location allowing them to create a happier, more engaged and effective workforce.

The days of ‘one worker, one desk’ are numbered. The trend is towards flexible mobile working – and this is set to accelerate. Unified Communications is the logical, sensible and compelling answer to the challenges raised by a more distributed, demanding workforce.

Gary Adey is a Director at Vodafone Global Enterprise