Employees are only human. They take breaks. They get distracted. As companies demand more from fewer employees and blur the line between ‘work’ time and ‘personal’ time, it is to be expected that personal or non-business use of computer and network resources will occur. But, how much is too much?
A recent study by Facetime found that actual usage is about 10 times higher than what managers estimated employees were doing. Employees are using MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and many other social networking and Web 2.0 resources. This activity may exceed a reasonable amount of ‘personal’ time for some employees and it also has security implications for the enterprise. Check out this ITWeb article for a more detailed breakdown of what Facetime found in the study.
Companies love to have meetings. In my experience, the bigger the company, the more they like to meet. While working for a Fortune 100 IT services company I once had more than 20 hours of my work week filled with recurring meetings. In other words, more than half of my available time each week was spent meeting about what to do instead of going and doing it.
One of the reasons companies like meetings is that there is an assumption that there is some greater camaraderie or synergy developed from the face to face interaction. Do you know what else is greater in a face to face interaction? Germs. Meetings are typically in enclosed spaces and involve handshaking, sharing documents, and other physical interactions that can result in spreading germs.
Some meetings are just local team meetings, but often customers, vendors, partners, or managers fly in from across the country or around the world to participate in meetings. Those trips incur travel costs, lodging, meals, rental cars, etc. Hopefully some Earth-shattering information is covered at the meeting to justify the costs.
In this time of economic recession and with the emerging threat of the potential pandemic of H1N1 (swine flu), organizations should re-examine the value provided by these face to face meetings. The fact is, the same meeting can be conducted and the same results achieved without the travel or germs. Joe Schurman agrees with this mentality in his recent post Swine Flu + Recession = Microsoft Office Live Meeting.
SmartSIP is officially here! In the official press release Simon Booth, Director of Research & Development for Evangelyze Communications, says “SmartSIP is designed for extending the Microsoft UC platform to industry standard SIP connectivity (UDP) while minimizing the maintenance and administration overhead by leveraging Microsoft’s Active Directory and OCS configuration.”
Check out this video overview of SmartSIP to learn why this product is so revolutionary, then visit the Evangelyze Communications site to get more details and figure out how to use SmartSIP to change communications in your organization.
One of the innovative features of Office Communications Server 2007 R2 (OCS 2007 R2) was the introduction of Response Groups. The OCS 2007 R2 Response Group Service provides essentially the same functionality is ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) groups have in call centers for decades. Individuals can be assigned to groups by department or skill set so that questions and issues can be efficiently routed to the appropriate people to address them.
In trying to create and implement custom tabs in Office Commmunicator Rui Silva ran into some problems. Although he appeared to follow the steps implicitly, the custom tabs were not showing up. Check out his blog post The Case of the Disappearing Tabs to find out more about the issue, the steps he took to troubleshoot it, and what the resolution is.
One of the promises of unified communications is the ability to reach people when and how you need to. Microsoft Office Communicator provides presence, instant messaging, and other capabilities for desktops, and Microsoft extends that functionality to the Windows Mobile platform with Office Communicator Mobile.
Shockingly, not all mobile phones are built on the Windows Mobile platform though. Organizations that rely on Microsoft Unified Communications now have a way to extend the Communicator functionality a little further with Communicator Mobile for Java. Communicator Mobile for Java will work on the Nokia S60, Nokia S90, or Motorola RAZR v3xx and provides the following features and more:
- View contacts
- Click to call
- Search enterprise directory
- Route calls from mobile phone through enterprise voice
- Route calls to mobile phone for singe number access
- Initiate or participate in instant messaging sessions and instant messaging conferences
The swine flu is now suspected to have hit Italy, Spain, Denmark, the United States, Mexico, France, Canada, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand. It has claimed more than 100 lives in Mexico, and there are more than 40 confirmed cases scattered throughout the United States from Texas to Michigan and from California to New York.
With Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano declaring a health emergency in the United States and the World Health Organization (WHO) raising the pandemic alert level to Phase 4, people around the world are concerned.
Unified communications already presents a solid business case for cutting costs and streamlining business processes, but a situation like the current swine flu outbreak makes that case even stronger. When the world is healthy organizations can enjoy the cost savings of conducting voice and video conferences and collaborating online rather than spending money traveling around the world. With a swine flu epidemic threatening to grow into an official pandemic conducting voice and video conferences remotely rather than traveling and meeting face to face becomes a business imperative and a piece of a solid business continuity gameplan.
Minimizing travel and face to face exposure allows organizations to continue to meet with partners and customers, collaborate with coworkers, and conduct business while minimizing or eliminating the risk of exposure to infectious disease like the swine flu.
Save the planet and yourself. Use unified communications.
As this TMCNet.com article on unified communications points out, unified communications is difficult to define as a market in and of itself. The components that make up unified communications cut across a variety of existing markets including “conferencing (Web, audio, video and multi-media); voice, fax and email messaging; instant messaging; mobility; presence; phone systems; communications-enabled business processes and hosted collaboration or voice services.”
But, when you combine the component markets that make up unified communications and look at the unified communications market as a whole, it appears that what was a $21.5 billion market in 2008 is on track for 12% annual growth and is predicted to grow to a $37.3 billion market by 2013. With a global economy in recession its nice to see an IT segment with strong growth. It is probably no coincidence that it is a market segment that has the most potential to result in more efficient and streamlined business processes and enable organizations to cut costs in a variety of ways.
Voice over IP (VoIP) has been hot for a while now. Companies have sold and implemented VoIP hardware and software for customers. VoIP then evolved into being offered as a hosted service- but still with a dedicated infrastructure per customer. The next step is to simply offer VoIP from the cloud as a managed services offering.
Fulcrum Group, a Dallas-based MSP (managed services provider) is working to make that shift. According to the article from Business Solutions Fulcrum Group co-founder and vice president David Johnson “knows managed VoIP is a viable business model because companies like Avaya and Nortel have been successful at it in the enterprise space, which makes him confident of turning a profit.”
BT is expanding their OneVoice voice-oriented VPN service and incorporating unified communications capabilities. OneVoice already allows customers to realize cost savings and make calls around the world, but the new and improved service will include SIP connectivity and bring unified communications features such as presence to the OneVoice service.
Presence will allow users to see whether or not their intended recipient is available to receive a call or not. That insight can help them to communicate more efficiently and enable them to determine the best method of communicating given the urgency (or lack thereof) of the message being delivered.
One of the most anticipated innovations in Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 was the introduction of the ability to connect OCS directly to a SIP trunk. One caveat to that excitement was that Microsoft only provides that connectivity with two chosen SIP trunk providers. That seriously limits the potential of direct SIP trunking.
Evangelyze Communications is coming to the rescue though with SmartSIP. SmartSIP enables organizations to connect OCS with….wait. I can’t possibly explain SmartSIP any better than this video overview. The clip is less than a minute long and well worth the time. Check it out for yourself.