South African companies in every industry are becoming enchanted by the possibilities of Cloud-based architecture and services.
One area of the organisation that is perfectly primed for migration to the Cloud is that of Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) – comprising the tools and mediums used by teams working together in their daily activities.
Enabling real-time, virtual collaboration within the enterprise is certainly one of the hallmarks of digital transformation.
But making communication more fluid shouldn’t be the end-goal of your UCC journey. The true power of hosting sophisticated UCC tools within the Cloud lie in the ability to connect these tools with other core enterprise systems.
For example, by connecting your UCC hub with Microsoft’s Active Directory, staff can get a presence status for their colleagues (such as “in a call”, “busy”, or “offline”) as they prepare to write an Instant Message or connect a video conference.
Taking it one step further, by integrating client details from one’s calendar into a CRM system, remote salespeople can update a client’s order from the meeting room – with the convenience of their tablet. This would populate the CRM system while simultaneously sending an order confirmation email to the client.
Or, imagine the case of an engineer working in the field, who submits his report of a faulty piece of infrastructure via an instant message to an office-based colleague, and attaches a short video and some photos from his phone to show the exact problem. The colleague could effortlessly shift this from IM, into the company’s procurement module, and trigger the request for a new order. The transcript from the IM, and the multimedia attachments, would then be available to the departmental head as he approves the order from the procurement system.
Many organisations are failing to realise these powerful functionalities, because they haven’t connected their UCC tools to the relevant core systems. If this is the case, a lot of value is being left on the table. One of the primary benefits of a Cloud-based Dynamic UCC solution is the ability to deliver a single user interface that can access all your third-party, integrated functions or applications from a single screen.
Not only does this make staff more productive, but it tends to reduce the support required for core systems, as staff securely access these services through their single UCC interface.
Another key dynamic is the trend towards closer engagements with partners, suppliers and even customers. Extending your UCC tools to individuals and systems outside the organisation is easily possible with a Cloud-based configuration.
Further to this, adopting a Cloud-based Dynamic UCC platform makes compliance with information security and privacy regulations far easier to control. Supported by comprehensive audit logging capabilities, SA companies can ensure they are in-line with governance like King III and legislation like the Protection of Personal Information Act.
And finally, considering that communications normally form a shared service within the organisation, Cloud UCC services that accurately track the costs from all calls, video conferences, and other interactions becomes are very useful indeed. It enables costs to be easily allocated to the respective business departments, integrated seamlessly into the organisation’s billing systems.
Simply moving UCC infrastructure to the Cloud will certainly yield instant efficiency/productivity benefits, but as you hook your UCC platform into more and more enterprise systems, you unlock increasing business value.
And as we prepare for the future working world, where communication needs to flow instantly and securely around the company, and into external environments, those without a Dynamic UCC platform will be at a growing disadvantage.
By Hein Witte, Specialised Solution Sales Manager at T-Systems in South Africa