Intelligent communications across borders – the future workplace
John Baldwin, the voice and unified communications director at Colt Technology Services explains how international businesses can increase productivity and employee satisfaction by tightly integrating key desktop applications and unified communications in the cloud.
The modern enterprise is more diverse and connected than ever before, with new applications that bring people together regardless of their location. For staff already pushed for time, the variety of desktop and communication apps can add layers of complication and negatively impact productivity. For businesses with an international presence, it’s no longer practical or cost-effective for offices to choose their own approach, instead everyone needs to be able to communicate seamlessly together and enjoy the same service experience regardless of location – without adding layers of complexity to the network or the procurement process.
Enterprises are moving essential applications and workloads to the cloud at a rapid rate. According to Gartner’s October 2018 Public Cloud Services report, software as a service (SaaS) will reach 43% of total application software spending by 2022, with SaaS becoming what appears to be the preferred delivery model for applications as both on-premises and cloud providers deliver nearly all enhancements, extensions, and add-ons via SaaS.
The move to unified communications is nothing new, but enterprises are taking it further by adopting ‘intelligent communications.’ This brings together productivity applications and enterprise communication, closely integrated to deliver everything colleagues need to collaborate and work efficiently, with minimal switching between applications or tasks.
Hosting productivity and communication applications in the cloud makes it easy to roll out to new users and to manage version control and updates. By closely linking desktop applications with productivity apps, directory services and communications, it’s quick and easy to contact colleagues and follow up on actions – for example clicking on a comment in a document and getting a range of options for contacting that person – instant message, email or call. In meetings, information and relevant colleagues are easily accessible and on calls, it’s easy to find meeting minutes or key documents without having to switch between applications.
As businesses plan for the future workplace, moving to intelligent communications can dramatically simplify the procurement and management process, helping reduce costs while enabling much closer collaboration between employees. To fully realise these benefits there are three key areas which must be considered; the applications, the network and the supplier.
The applications need to be easy to use, available in all territories, future proof and from a trusted supplier. Many businesses use Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of products as they know the products work well together and there’s a solid roadmap for the future. They’re also available around the world and people are used to working with them.
Any move to intelligent communications needs to be fully supported by the network. It needs to connect offices with a first-class experience, have the capacity to scale up to cope with voice and productivity applications hosted in the cloud and for premium performance be connected to the key data centres where new cloud services reside. To enable flexible and best pricing options for voice, integrating an advanced SIP trunking into the network with quality of service provides the complete solution. It also needs to be highly resilient, as a move to intelligent communications means that downtime will have an even bigger impact on productivity and lost revenue.
This makes the role of the supplier much more important than in a traditional procurement process. Now they need to offer an end-to-end solution for the network as well as voice and productivity applications, all with a level of resilience that provides peace of mind to the customer. Savings can further increase by interconnecting directly with a telecom provider for users to make and receive external voice calls – as in the case of Microsoft’s Direct Routing with Teams or Skype for Business – as that allows to benefit from more flexible tariff plans.
The intelligent communications approach can help businesses improve efficiency, reduce costs and get ready for the next generation of employees. With more companies offering flexible working, using intelligent communications ensures staff have access to the work and communication tools they need, regardless of physical location. The challenge for network managers and CIOs is to ensure that the move is done in a way that removes complication and cost, while still delivering a service that people can rely on. That can be achieved by relying on a single supplier that can offer a fully integrated solution – including productivity and unified communications applications, high performance and reliable bandwidth, support for transition and deployment – with a seamless user experience and one single point of contract and contact across multiple countries.
 Gartner, Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2016-2022, 3Q18 Update, October 2018. (Summary_Could_Segment_Country)