by Rikus Jansen, head of EOH Voice and Unified Communications

According to a recent Gallup poll, 37% of individuals work from a location outside of the corporate office at least once per week. This is only going to increase.

Unified communications (UC) is paving the way for remote collaboration and productivity, driven by constant innovation and enhancement of technology and applications available to a remote workforce.

One of the biggest challenges with remote teams is the lack of personal interaction. However, as the cost of UC technology comes down, the number of price-competitive video collaboration tools continues to rise.

UC providers are shifting video platforms to accommodate mobile devices and internet browsers, which opens the door to easier collaboration among remote workers.

Collaboration will take the lead in UC

Until a few years ago, email threads with multiple people and seemingly endless back and forth conversation were the norm in remote collaboration. Chat, IM&P and calendar sharing tools are integrated into UC solutions, giving team members the ability to quickly engage with other members based on availability.

Thus, collaboration will take the lead in unified communications this year, in line with IDC predictions of 75 per cent of IT spending going on third platform tech: cloud, mobile, analytics and social media.

The “decision power” end users are now gaining, leading to better ease-of-use and user experience. The drive will continue towards genuinely useful, collaboration-based products.

When organisations are currently looking for UC tools, they have to ask themselves a key question — are they looking to boost collaboration or are they working towards a digital transformation?

UC tools are just one part of a larger digital transformation

For digital transformation to truly take hold effectively in an organisation, it needs to seamlessly integrate across departments, support a range of business needs and be embraced by management. Changing how people work goes beyond a good new application or tool; it’s about helping businesses transition to the new digital paradigm.

Employees are already currently familiar with simple, intuitive and modern user interfaces from their private lives. This fact must also be taken into account even more in the field of unified communications.

It must be possible for every employee to use UC solutions without a long introduction phase. Because ultimately the UC features are needed for daily work, which requires the removal of any major obstacles.

Rikus Jansen is a Unified Communications specialist. He entered the South African technology space in the late 1980s, pioneering 3D animation and video effects in the broadcasting industry. This led to a career in corporate ICT outsourcing. He co-founded Ensync Voice Solutions, a unified communications company. After merging the Ensync companies with the JSE-listed ICT provider, EOH, he now heads up the EOH Voice and Unified Communications business, which is one of the leading communication providers in South Africa.