The hype around unified communications (UC) has been percolating for years, yet by and large there’s been a disconnect (pun intended) among enterprises to develop and execute forward-thinking, comprehensive UC strategies. Ready or not, the consumerization of IT is forcing enterprises to plug into UC, and ironically, the productivity needs of end users.
The meteoric acceleration of innovation in the mobility space and the global domination of social networking has even best-of-breed companies—or technology innovators—struggling to keep pace, let alone anticipate how mobile device types and collaborative applications are likely to evolve, and plan accordingly. Inarguably, the challenge is a formidable one. By some estimates, the speed of mobile innovation is two times faster than it was just five years ago. There are currently close to 450,000 available iPhone apps alone, which is about twice as many as there were this time last year. Prior to 2010, tablets weren’t even in the picture.
The rapid evolution of collaboration and mobility technologies took off about the same time as the economy tapered off. Year-over-year budget cuts had IT departments doing more with less, and necessitated a “triage” approach to IT needs over a strategic one. Though IT budgets are on the rise, the influx of employee-liable smart devices—a.k.a. the BYOD (bring your own device) movement—and the subsequent user demand for network access via multiple mobile operating platforms and device types, social networking and other collaboration applications like CEBP, has IT fielding requests on an ad hoc basis.
To varying degrees, many enterprise organizations are letting end-user demand steer their UC strategies, as getting ahead of the innovation curve has simply proved to be too much. This forced shift from the traditional top-down management model to a more bottom-up approach is at last giving substance to years of UC hype.
The core purpose of UC is to enhance overall productivity based in large part on the specific needs of individual end users and the applications they use day-to-day. Lack of time and budget has historically fueled the already difficult task of identifying and accurately assessing end-user need, a key element of successful UC deployment strategies. The consumerization of IT and the BYOD trend are reinforcing the original aim of enterprise UC—helping users maximize collaboration, improve operation efficiency and provide a platform for innovation that will sustain long-term viability.