The Four Cs of Effective Collaboration

nec-unified-communications-collaboration-four-csModern organizations understand they need to react to a rapidly changing business environment quickly. The need to address customer demands, react to competitive threats, and improve profitability, is largely dependent on the way employees interact and engage, collaborate and communicate – not only with each other, but also with business partners and customers.

The need to reduce the consequences of delays and missed deadlines is also critical for a modern business. For many there are now more staff that are remote than located in a physical office, increasing the difficulty in contacting others when needed. This further adds delays to important decision making and hinders the effective communication of critical business information.

In order for companies to collaborate effectively it helps to consider these four key areas within the context of adopting enterprise social collaborative solutions.

  1. Culture – One of the biggest barriers to the successful adoption of collaborative solutions is the organizational culture of a company. Collaboration aims to flatten, blur and decentralize “command and control” management styles; organizational hierarchies cannot respond quickly to changing business demands.  Collaboration offers an environment of cross-departmental “communities” with fewer layers and more decentralized decision making. This can be intimidating to those companies (and managers) that favor a more power-based reporting structure.
  2. Coordination – The main technological driver behind the adoption of enterprise social collaboration is to remove “information silos.” The benefit of such a collaboration solution is to improve an employee’s focus on projects, customers, or communities of interest by “harmonizing” information and activities across departments. Previously such information might be locked away in personal inboxes, on individual PCs or, more alarmingly, stored in public cloud services outside the control and governance of company IT departments.
  3. Cooperation – In order to improve the adoption, and therefore return on investment of collaborative solutions, companies need to encourage and empower employees in all parts of the organization to work together. The adoption of new working practices is made visible through the very nature of collaborative tools. The success of these new services accelerated by senior managers acting as facilitators to encourage cooperation. Managers need to change themselves and encourage their teams to change with them, which requires the capacity to lead by example and let go, rather than to “command and control.”
  4. Connection – Many companies think of those employees that interact with people outside the organization as being limited to customer facing staff such as sales or customer support. Collaborative solutions provide the capability to develop relationships with external partners or customers beyond front line staff. Linking up a company’s front office with back office, and externally linking with business partners and customers, (often referred to as federation) significantly increases demand-side economies of scale. This then creates a “network effect” as the solution becomes more valuable and more people join in.

Only when these four Cs of collaboration are addressed and used in conjunction with an enterprise social collaborative solution, is a company’s ability to respond to opportunities and threats rapidly realized.

About the author: Tim Banting is a Principal Analyst with the Business Technology and Software group at Current Analysis. He tracks and assesses the rapidly evolving communications and collaboration marketplace. His areas of coverage include collaboration platforms, unified communications, video collaboration and social analytics. Tim has over 20 years’ experience in the unified communications and collaboration field having held business development, pre-sales, technical marketing and senior product management roles.


Hybrid Cloud: An Alternative State for Enterprise Unified Communications and Collaboration

nec-hybrid-cloud-optionDespite the recent success of Unified Communications (UC) providers utilizing the public cloud in the SMB space, enterprise IT stakeholders can still be hesitant to make the move in taking their business communications entirely to the public cloud. Explanations for this often include reasoning based on a misunderstanding of the advancements made in public cloud security and availability, previous investment in costly on-premises equipment, or simply, their corporate culture.

The hybrid cloud could be the answer for businesses either investing in Unified Communications solutions for the first time, or that are looking to re-tailor their solution to better address certain business concerns.

According to Gartner VP Distinguished Analyst, Thomas J. Bittman, in a September 3, 2013 report titled, ‘Private Cloud Matures, Hybrid Cloud is Next,’ “While actual hybrid cloud computing deployments are rare, nearly three-fourths of large enterprises expect to have hybrid deployments by 2015.”

Hybrid Cloud for Enterprises

By definition, the Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC) hybrid cloud is the combination of both private cloud and public cloud UCC components.  And its appeal is the wide array of options that it presents to enterprises.

Private Cloud for Enterprises

The private cloud offers enterprises secure solutions that are designed to keep data and resources safe on-premises. Enterprises generate a lot of sensitive information—customer data, voicemail, and email copies—and, depending on the corporate policy, confidential data analytics and mission-critical systems can be deemed too important to run on the public cloud. Having a private cloud in place is necessary for many enterprises to perform these and other functions, keeping them well within the bounds of the compliance procedures set by an individual company.

Main Drawback: Private clouds are expensive and are often inflexible. They often cannot scale to meet growing demands, and add more to the organization’s budget in infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Public Cloud for Enterprises

The public cloud, very simply, offers scalability and flexibility that the private cloud cannot easily match. Public cloud service providers are able to make resources, such as applications and storage, available to enterprises at any time.  They also use the newest technologies available, providing an organization with new services without ruining the bottom line. And, public clouds typically have better utilization rates and are flexible enough to meet the demand of your enterprise while still keeping infrastructure costs low.

Main Drawback: In many cases, when a quality provider is chosen, no drawback exists.  Unqualified providers, however, are often questioned on their ability to provide security, compliance, and data protection.

Hybrid Cloud for Enterprises

Sometimes the best infrastructure for UCC requires both public and dedicated environments. The Hybrid cloud, once thought of as the bridge to the public cloud has, in fact, become the last stop for many medium and large enterprises.

Best-Fit Infrastructures: Hybrid Unified Communications and Collaboration

Hybrid UCC allows enterprises to procure UCC services through several deployment models while supporting the service integration needed to deliver a UCC experience in much the same way as can be done with the public cloud. The main difference is that hybrid UCC allows an enterprise to tailor the cloud deployment model to their specific communication needs, security policies, or budget in the case of companies who have investments in existing premises equipment (e.g. PBX).  Hybrid also gives premises-based users the ability to migrate to the cloud at a pace that suits current business needs, and can strengthen a business continuity strategy.

With the hybrid cloud, many UCC components can live behind the corporate firewall. Other components, that need the elasticity and quick provisioning that the public cloud offers will have that too. Instead of choosing one option or the other, the hybrid cloud provides enterprises with another alternative for secure, scalable UCC solutions.

Rationalizing the Move to Hybrid Cloud UCC

If you’d like to learn more about hybrid UCC and how it can work for your business, NEC experts are more than happy to help. We can provide you with consulting services and quotes that can help you determine what a customized cloud strategy could do for your long and short term business goals.