5 steps to achieving an agile workforce with Unified Communications

nec-unified-communications-5-step-agile-workforceIn our last post we identified how you can unify your workforce communications regardless of physical location.  Read on to see how Unified Communications gives your workforce the toolset to take action whenever and wherever they are; workforce agility plays a big role in accomplishing this without overhauling existing business processes. Check out the following five steps on achieving an agile workforce.

 

  1. Agility depends on knowledge. Workforce agility is the product of staff knowledge and access to the right information and people when it counts.
  2. Visibility and perspective. Knowing when and how customers or stakeholders engage enables organizations to efficiently allocate resources by providing a factual base from which to make decisions – resulting in improved processes.
  3. Swift connections. A highly mobile workforce can be easily coordinated. Giving staff visibility of each other and the tools to connect to the right available person accelerates resolution and enables early intervention.
  4. Controlled mobility. Mobility puts productivity tools at workers’ fingertips, but at the heart of a mobile strategy is centralized management of devices, services, access and security.
  5. Asset protection. Deploying Unified Communications does not mean replacing all legacy software and hardware. Licensing, for example, can be carried at no cost, while physical assets such as handsets need not be discarded. Unified Communications, mobility and smart desk phones should target the functions where it delivers the greatest impact to the organization. Processes, work culture, and the future business landscape will determine where and when to extend capabilities.

In the end, how well your workforce responds to threats and opportunities defines both your organization’s operational performance and the customer experience.

Unified Communications Underpins an Agile Workforce

nec-unified-communications-agile-workforceYour organization’s success will demand and possibly depend upon an agile and responsive workforce, regardless of location and how staff is connected. Enabling mobility plays a key role in achieving an agile workforce, but is only part of a journey that is based on rallying people, knowledge and resources to improve your organization’s outcomes.

Read on to learn more about unifying communications, communications challenges, and how your organization can steer itself towards a lower cost path that enables it to deliver outstanding service.

 

The Business edge: responsiveness and trust
Unified Communications is the cornerstone to agility and responsiveness, but creating the environment for this to successfully take place depends entirely on knowledge. After all, your workforce cannot respond to an event until they are aware that it’s taken place. Their response to threats and opportunities defines both operational performance and your customer’s experience.

Underpinning these hard-won assets is the infrastructure that supports an agile workforce. When it comes to telephony, yes, providing a dial-tone gives the bare essentials, but are there better ways to support agility? Does merely providing a dial-tone place your organization in the best position to adapt when the time is right?

The customer’s perception of dealing with your organization will define the level of trust placed in your workforce. Small overheads on performance, over time, have a cumulative effect that impacts both the top and bottom lines.

Speaking of customer perception, responsiveness and trust are critical to the success of business in a competitive market. Regardless of the organization’s size and physical distribution, the right people need to respond at the right time – whether it’s a client query, a new tender, a patient emergency or a critical supply chain issue.

 

Unified Communications: the journey to mobility
Beyond mobility, the bigger picture is unifying workforce communications at the desk, in the corridor or on the road and providing a platform that allows your business to embrace new processes at the appropriate time. Today’s workforce has a host of communications tools to support business, including desktop telephony, email, instant messaging, presence, social networking, and mobile devices, such as laptops, Smartphones or tablets.

The common thread between all these platforms is that they keep people in touch and up to date. Unified Communications offers business a stepping stone to allow its workforce to take control over communications platforms and manage customer expectations – all while fostering agility.

Unified Communications is an essential step in enabling businesses to control its degree of mobility. This is achieved by putting components of the office at the mobile worker’s fingertips. More importantly, it connects existing processes to the individual, rather than their desktops, providing a path to gradually transform practices.

Now that you know the importance of mobility and Unified Communications in an agile workforce, how will you achieve one? In the next segment we will share five steps to help you get started.

SIP as Part of Your UC Considerations

sip-unified-communicationsToday IT professionals and businesses in general understand the importance of unified communications (UC). Information speed is faster than ever – and continuously accelerating, so your information stream needs to be able to keep up. Whether it’s presence, voice, data, chat, video, messaging or email, everything needs to be synchronized. Using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)as a part of your UC deployment is something that should be considered during the planning process – if you haven’t already jumped onto the SIP bandwagon.

SIP trunking isn’t new, but it has seen a considerable increase in adoption in recent years. Initially used as a form of business continuity or redundancy to traditional T1/PRI lines in the enterprise space, SIP trunking is now commonly viewed as a secure way to reduce costs. These cost savings, along with the productivity gains, are often considered as part of the business case for UC. Of course, traditional benefits such as improved customer service and satisfaction, along with reduced travel are often sited too.

The addition of SIP end point applications enable benefits like single number reach and extending enterprise communications to mobile employees. SIP provides a way to identify and set up various forms of communication sessions among endpoints capable of supporting a simple software client, over any kind of wired or wireless link. The value in SIP is that it enhances interoperability, provides alternatives, and promotes portability across telecommunications and applications. Combining mobility with presence and availability information accelerate collaboration and problem resolution. These are often key elements in the user-specific requirements in a UC deployment project.

As you consider your UC deployment, and define the goals of the project, take care not to overlook the flexibility of SIP applications and lower costs of SIP trunks. Not only do SIP trunks play a valuable role in building a justification based on cost savings and the business value of UC, they add to executive buy-in and user adoption, which is key in any successful project.

Implementation Options for Unified Communications

nec-unified-communications_optionsUnified communications (UC) is about connecting employees, business partners and clients with information in an efficient, collaborative workplace. Today’s users expect complete compatibility across all interfaces, including tablets and smart devices. A communication framework that can accomplish these aims must be reliable, secure and, above all, extremely versatile.

If implemented successfully, UC will yield results across an entire company. The existing business will adapt more immediately to market changes, and new products will be envisioned and brought to market in a much shorter time frame.

Three approaches to unified communications that stand out as presenting the greatest, most effective opportunities for the forward looking company are: expanded voice systems, enhanced desktop functionality and communications-enabled business processes. However, every business situation is unique and faces its own set of challenges as it relates to UC adoption. Selecting a partner that can provide a customized approach utilizing any number of techniques is the ideal way to meet your specific requirements.

Expanded Voice Systems

Voice communication systems are easily the most used (and sometimes overlooked) communication tool. The addition of web collaboration, audio and video conferencing, presence, instant message, support for mobile devices and the integration of business applications can substantially improve the usefulness of your voice communications system. These options are varied but always versatile, scalable and cost effective. This approach also allows you to take advantage of your voice system and integrate elements of UC with installed desktop applications.

Enhanced Desktop Functionality

You can choose to add elements of unified communications (instant message, presence, and click-to-call) to desktop applications such as e-mail and calendar. Desktop applications are an obvious necessity to any successful business, as they provide the interface to, and are the focus of, all the information systems of the business. This information is the lifeline of your business, and enhancing access to them is imperative.

Communications-Enabled Business Processes (CEBP)

A picture is worth a thousand words. This statement is as true in business as anywhere else. Integrating your core business applications with your communications network can allow your employees, partners and clients to experience rather than just read the information you want communicated. Simply put, representations of complicated or highly technical information can be portrayed as images. Everyone from sales associates to senior management will benefit tremendously from the ability to quickly grasp and adapt to this information and use it to act more decisively.

These benefits encompass all business departments and industries. Every department will be able to make rapid, informed decisions based on the same information and, if needed, further detail is always available on the system. Industries as diverse as manufacturing and education as well as government offices can be confident in their ability to communicate across every user interface.

While the market definition of UC seems to be ever evolving, the drivers remain constant. The value of UC is most evident when one recognizes the vast amounts of information that are communicated across formerly separate communications technologies. But the true value is reaped when, as a result of UC implementation, innovation, collaboration and teamwork are all enhanced and significantly increase the efficiency of a business.

Enterprise Communications: How to Avoid a Traffic Jam (Part II)

nec-unified-communications-traffic_management-2You’ve identified your problem, now let’s solve it and maintain the results.

Ongoing traffic maintenance is critical to the success of a well formed traffic management strategy. You must continually monitor your call flows to ensure that the patterns have not changed.

In most cases, weekly or daily traffic reports are run and analysis performed to ensure that no busy conditions are occurring. If they do occur, it is imperative that you first check to see that this is not due to a fault such as a downed T1 that has reduced the number of available trunks on the route. If this is not the case, then a traffic problem exists and needs to be immediately accounted for.

Call Center environments are especially sensitive to traffic problems. In call center environments, an aggressive traffic management strategy should be implemented and diligently attended to. The voice administrator needs to have exposure to everything that is going on related to that route to properly troubleshoot issues or plan for growth.

What information will I need to assess my trunking needs?

Depending on the needs of your organization, the types of traffic information you find valuable will determine which traffic types you should collect and store. For example, peg count and call second usage information can be collected for many different types of traffic based items including trunk utilization, station statistics, group usages, attendant statistics and call center information.

Another traffic type that can be collected is the VoIP statistics information as it relates to any number of different IP based voice devices throughout your communications solution. This information is based on the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) packets that are passed between the devices throughout the course of a conversation. This data is valuable because it tells an administrator how much bandwidth is currently being consumed by voice traffic and over which network segments that information is flowing. It is beneficial in aiding network capacity planning efforts or in troubleshooting problems experienced with VoIP implementations.

Once you’ve collected the data, determining how much you should store will be dependent on your organization’s business needs. Every business is different, but each business likely experiences peaks and valleys in call volumes. If you experience higher traffic volumes on certain trunk routes at certain times during the year, be sure to plan to store enough traffic data to cover those peaks.
Regardless of your particular situation, traffic issues and trunking errors are costly and can potentially damage your organization’s reputation. Knowing the fundamentals of traffic management and coupling that with the right tools is the key to an effective traffic management strategy.

Hey, you made it all the way to the end. Learn more about tools designed by NEC to make traffic management both simple and automatic.