The use case for communications is universal. Every business of every size must be able to communicate internally among its workers, along its value chain, with its customers, and beyond—whether it is by voice, video, shared access to information or collaboration.

The question is: are you doing it well enough?

Could you, for instance, do business as usual if you couldn’t access your office?

Let’s explore how you could be doing communications better—and just how much there is to gain if you do.

Next: Be Brave.

1. Brave New World

As a unified communications technology provider, we see just how much the idea of work is changing—what it is and when, where, and how it happens

For many workers, physical presence is becoming increasingly rare. Sometimes it’s not part of the equation at all. After all, a single mobile phone can house a worker’s office, filing cabinet, Rolodex, telephone directory, boardroom, telephone, intercom, mailbox, movie theatre, social scene, entertainment center, shopping mall...

Technology has reshaped work and work communications.
Having the capacity and flexibility to accommodate workers in an increasingly decentralized and mobile environment offers huge opportunities for productivity and growth.

But there’s also the need to maintain business continuity in the face of local, regional, or global challenges and crises.

Your organization may be one of the millions of companies around the world that are still using the communications technology of the 70s, 80s, and 90s: PBX equipment, desk phones, and on-premises conferencing equipment designed for an era when everyone worked in person and on site.

These technologies haven’t kept pace with changes in work demographics and preferences driven by a mobile-enabled world. And they’re objectively ineffective at times when physical presence is impossible.

It’s unlikely that you purpose-built such a system. More likely, things are the way they are because your organization bought premises-based equipment back when it was current, inherited it through mergers or acquisitions, or a mix of both.

So what do you really need to keep in mind as you seek to empower your people to excel together in this brave new world?
It’s not as daunting a task as you may think.

Next: Silver Linings.

2. The Cloud is the Silver Lining

Whether it’s ever-shifting workforce trends, global health crises, transportation strikes, natural disasters, or other destabilizers, business will always face dark clouds. But clouds can come with silver linings. And in this case, the silver lining is the cloud.

The cloud offers a key opportunity to solve urgent communications challenges now while building a foundation for tomorrow.

In fact, it might be the most important choice you make today, with the biggest long-term impact on your organization.

For some organizations, the ‘great migration’ from PBX to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is already underway.

Others, for lots of good reasons, are taking longer to get there. Change is hard. It can come with risk, and aversion to risk is natural.
But today’s reality shines new light on the risk/reward equation: while there’s always risk in change, sometimes not changing is the bigger gamble.
Only the cloud offers the power, flexibility, and resiliency that today’s work reality calls for. Learning how to migrate from PBX to VoIP is a game-changer on other fronts as well, including business adaptability, agility, analytics and insight, security, and more.

Next: 4 Keystones.

3. Laying Your Communications Foundation

The 4 Keystones
Keystone 1
Approach technology cross-functionally

To meet today’s challenges and lay the groundwork for tomorrow, businesses need the flexibility, security, resiliency and power that cloud-based unified communications technology offers. But if your technology delivery isn’t guided by the right policies, you won’t reap its full benefits.

The emerging realities of work require policies that break down collaboration boundaries not only between workers and organizations, but also among cross-functional departments within the organization.

Policies drive delivery

When you are thinking about communications across an organization, it’s important to recognize that HR is a key player. Human resource policies and technology overlap. Viewing the world through the lens of unified communications and collaboration, we see this clearly. But others may not recognize that their company’s policies around work – such as remote work, satellite offices, and the consistency of your productivity tools – are a precursor to successful technology delivery.

Communications technology is business

User experience isn’t just a technology or IT concern: it’s how you reduce adoption barriers and truly open the door to productivity. Combined with effective communications, a great user experience will ensure that people take up new capabilities and reduce the amount of time you spend onboarding them. It can make or break productivity and plays a role in retention and recruitment.

Having communications technology and policy that makes people feel included, engaged, and emotionally connected to their work is more important as work becomes more distributed and cross-functional engagement evolves.

Network capacity is key

Alongside sound cross-functional policy, a fundamental component for successful communications today is your network. You can have the best technology platform in the world, but the question remains: can your network support it? Was the network designed to support real-time traffic, voice and video architecture, and so on?

The rise of remote working means that you also need to address the issue of home network connectivity. It’s important to have a detailed work-from-home policy based on best practices. For network connectivity in particular, it’s crucial that your organization ensure that its workers can take advantage of your communications infrastructure. That means a strong and reliable network connection—preferably a wired connection with VPN (virtual private network) access.

Keystone 2
Evolve your resiliency

Recent world events such as the COVID-19 pandemic bring into sharp relief the challenges of physical presence and premises-based technologies. They also highlight the benefits of cloud-based communications and remote capabilities, and they underscore how important it is for businesses to be ready for any local, regional, or global crisis.

Cloud-based communications services help organizations continue to do business amidst unforeseeable challenges.

But what about the risks of the cloud itself? It’s an important question. And the answer points to another advantage cloud-based solutions offer when it comes to overall resiliency.

Security is such a significant business factor for any cloud company’s business model that its focus on security will necessarily happen at a scale that far surpasses the size of any individual enterprise. You are wisely thinking about security in the context of your organization, but cloud providers must think about security at the scale of all the organizations that use their solutions.

Moving to the cloud enables you to scale security and enjoy a level of specialization you would not normally have. In essence, you’re outsourcing it to cloud unified communications providers whose entire business model rides on the strength of their security capacities and ability to operate reliably at scales well beyond the size of even a very large enterprise.

This ‘outsourcing’ benefit doesn’t just apply to security. By working with cloud providers, you can hand off management complexities in a number of areas. You gain access to a well of capacities, tools, and expertise unconstrained by your in-house limitations in knowledge, resources, cross-functional insight, and so on. All of this ‘bonus capacity’ adds up to greater insight into and resistance to risk—it boosts your overall resiliency in addition to helping you get the most from your technology investments.

Keystone 3
Embrace simplicity and invisibility

Well-designed communications tools, systems, and policies don’t draw unnecessary attention to themselves or trip up the user: they just do what they’re supposed to—beautifully and simply.

Communications technology should be an invisible force for good in the daily lives of workers as they design and deliver the strategic vision of your company.

Our credo is this: make it simple, make it frictionless. Small things make a big difference—like users having a local in-country dialing experience across communications media. Or IT not needing to waste its time managing contracts, invoices, and reports across the globe; eliminating maintenance updates and multiple support channels; and disconnecting contract termination timelines and rates.

When it comes to communications technology, invisibility also means replicating the proximity that today’s fragmented and distributed reality has disrupted. No technology can fully replace the rapport of face-to-face interaction, but we can make sure, for example, that whether you’re a full-time employee or a contractor, your ability to collaborate isn’t compromised.

As a company, creating business processes that support this fluidity is essential to your profitability and agility. We often talk about change management in terms of big ideas like transformation, but it’s the small steps of fluidity you provide to workers that can make the biggest difference.

Keystone 4
Recalculate ROI

What trade-offs are you really making when you hold on to technology that doesn’t support your needs?

One of our customers, a large global enterprise with tens of thousands of employees, had more than 30 hardware-based systems at locations around the world. Every one of those systems came with its own maintenance regime. The company also needed to manage multiple carrier relationships with a global footprint. And every so often they would have an acquisition or merger to integrate.

We think of this scenario in terms of the ‘surface area’ IT has to manage. In this case, the surface area was no longer realistically manageable. Not just because it was unruly, expensive, and overgrown, but because the time IT was putting into managing it was time not spent thinking about how to propel growth.

Streamlining infrastructure is essential to any digital transformation agenda. Analysts will sometimes say that the switch to VoIP won’t save you money. But consolidation will drive cost savings and as you go down the cloud path, not only do you stop maintaining technology that doesn’t serve your needs, you realize that the nature of cloud technology itself allows you to do more for your money. In essence, you get more product for your investment. You also get predictable and visible costs, and control—all things that make your CFO happy.

A note on vendor relationships

In nearly all instances, you will get significantly more value when you work with a partner rather than a transactional vendor. A partner takes the long view. They want to be part of your team beyond the initial deployment. They want to help you design your strategy, diving deep to understand the idiosyncrasies of your company, your industry, your regulatory constraints, your workforce, and your goals.

But they’re also able to make connections outside your scope of experience, to other relevant instances, and apply that insight to your benefit. They are committed to you far beyond deployment, helping you build a strategy that makes sense, manage the change this deployment creates, understand the performance of the tools they’ve deployed, and continually improve that performance.

Next: Time to Migrate.

4. The Cloud Migration is Here

Delivering the unified communications your business needs now and in the years to come will require a move to the cloud. Businesses that embrace these keystones will reap the core benefits of cloud-based unified communications as a service, or UCaaS:
1. For the business
A heightened capacity to shorten the time from idea to execution and support the best ideas and best work.
1. Focus where it matters
2. For individual users
The ability to not only work better and faster, but to stay connected to their work, the organization and their colleagues and partners, no matter their location. This engagement also benefits the business.
2. Think it through
3. For IT
A manageable IT surface area and a better chance to drive value.