The Unified Communications Conundrum – Does One Size Fit All?

mobile workforce

Bradley Maule-Ffinch, director of UC Group, the organiser of UC EXPO, examines how to successfully implement UC&C technology for the workplace of the future

It is undeniable that the workplace has changed significantly over the past decade, leading to a sharp increase in mobile and remote working. Of the 30.2million people in work in the UK from January-March 2015, 4.2 million worked from home or remotely, the highest rate since comparable records began in 1998.

An office-based job is being increasingly shunned in favour of remote working, giving rise to the connected employee – constantly connected and with instant access to business information through pioneering Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC&C) tools. Increasingly, businesses are adopting tools to allow for a more flexible working environment. But do we need to delve deeper than this and find one solution that addresses all challenges when it comes to UC?

The connected employee

IDC predicts that by the end of the year, over 37 percent of the global workforce will be ‘mobile’ workers (i.e., working from home or elsewhere) – this is a rise in 300 million since 2010. 84 percent of UK workers have expressed a desire to work from home, conveying the fact that UC&C tools address a genuine business need, saving time and money in the long run. Thanks to the demands of the connected employee, the UC&C market is growing exponentially – expected to be worth around $17.38bn by 2019.  Despite operating from different locations, the connected employee is still able to deliver work in the required formats, on time, still accessing company data at the touch of a button.

mobile phonesMajor vendors have begun to prepare for this growth by directing new offerings towards the connected professional consumer. Skype for Business, formerly Microsoft’s offering Lync, is a prime example, as is Project Squared from Cisco. Avaya, despite its CEO’s stance on the concept of UC&C as a ‘promise that does not deliver’, has seen a major shift from hardware to engagement, to better serve the needs of its increasingly mobile customers.

That said, it must be noted that UC may not be the one solution to solve all home working problems. The term ‘unified’ implies that everything is brought together under one platform, which means that everything is done in a ‘unified’ way. This is not always the case. Different business communities think and behave differently, and this includes ways of working – there is no one size fits all solution. SMEs, for example expect much more of an immediate ROI on any solutions implemented, UC or otherwise – a quarter expect to see an ROI within the first six months of adoption (not surprising given that many need cash, fast).

Large corporations expect a longer-term ROI, acknowledging the fact that a UC&C solution takes time to implement and to work effectively. That said, larger organisations will place a bigger emphasis on security and trust in their employees to work remotely. There is also the question of workers living in rural or remote areas, where bandwidth capability is often lacking – a UCaaS solution is only as effective as the bandwidth to back it up and keep it running, and if connectivity is poor, then it is harder to do your job effectively.

While sceptics may argue that UC may not solve all the issues faced by businesses when it comes to remote or home working, there is a business need for this flexibility. Currently, of the range of technologies that are offered, UC&C is the most cost effective option and time saving option, ensuring a truly connected and unified workforce.

It is crucial that businesses adapt to the demands of the next generation and embrace all that UC&C has to offer. In line with the organisational shift towards flexible working, UC EXPO 2015 on April 21-22, at London’s Olympia, will delve deeper into what you need know, and how to successfully implement UC&C technology for the workplace of the future. You can register for the free two day event at

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