The main reason for adopting unified communications (UC) is to gain increased efficiency and flexibility through the integration of telephony, email, messaging, conferencing and collaboration. But can a business communication solution really be considered unified if it doesn’t enable a seamless mobile experience?
Mobile phones have become the preferred business communication tool across many industries. Fifty-two percent of all workers and 90 percent of knowledge workers are mobile, according to analysts with ZK Research. It’s not just a matter of convenience, either. In an Oxford Economics study, 80 percent of business leaders say their employees can’t do their jobs effectively without a mobile phone, and 75 percent said mobile computing is essential to their business workflows.
Naturally, mobile users want to be able to integrate all forms of communication through a common dashboard that can be accessed on any device. However, this has proven to be an elusive goal.
Workarounds That Don’t Work
While most UC platforms offer mobile capabilities, they often lack true mobile integration. Typically, mobile features are bolted on rather than built into the system, usually through an “over the top” app installed on mobile devices. This is a bit of kludge, however, because these apps don’t integrate with the phone’s native dialer. That makes calling or messaging a cumbersome process for users.
For instance, making a call requires dialing within the app instead of using the mobile phone’s native dialer. It’s much the same with text messaging — you must open the app instead of just using the phone’s built-in SMS messaging functions. What usually happens is that users simply bypass the whole UC process and just use their phone’s native features. That may be mobile communications, but it certainly isn’t unified.
Maturing cloud delivery models enable a better approach. Rather than offering mobility as an add-on feature, cloud-based Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions deeply integrate native mobile capabilities with other business communication channels to create a seamless experience for the mobile workforce.
The UCaaS delivery model has always been tantalizing, particularly for smaller businesses that lack the staff and resources to support complex on-premises business communications platforms. The UCaaS model allows you to access advanced features for a predictable monthly fee — there’s no need to purchase, configure, deploy and manage on-premises gear. Those costs and responsibilities are shifted to a service provider.
However, the ability to deliver advanced communication and collaboration services to mobile users is what makes UCaaS so attractive in today’s business environment. Increased integration with iOS and Android dialers makes it easier for users to phone, text and email from a mobile device without having to switch between separate apps. Mobile devices also get desk-phone features such as extension dialing, conference calling, company directory, hold and call transfer.
UCaaS platforms also feature application programming interfaces that enable mobile voice and messaging integration with key business applications such as CRM, ERP, sales force automation and supply chain management. Other APIs and connectors allow integration with workflow management and compliance systems, giving IT departments more visibility and control over mobile communications.
It’s easy to understand why mobile has become the preferred mode for business communication — it is the most reliable way to get in touch with someone. However, mobile users can wind up working in a fragmented communications environment where they must constantly juggle between multiple applications.
Cloud-based UCaaS resolves these issues by providing native mobile access to essential communication and collaboration applications.