Yesterday, the workplace collaboration spot was the conference room down the hall. Today, collaboration occurs anywhere and everywhere, with 60% of workers expecting to hold remote office compatible jobs by 2021. The old conference room down the hall is gathering dust, because the best place to collaborate now is a “meeting room” in the cloud. And the way to get there from your desktop or mobile device is Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).
Driven by advanced technologies and the growing preference by U.S employees to work remotely, the mobile office must have all the essential tools to enable instantaneous collaboration. Otherwise, workers are frustrated, productivity suffers and the advantages of always-on communications are lost.
When UCaaS reality isn’t meeting expectations
While the advent of unified communications led to the integration of essential tools for teamwork on one platform, the promise of remote collaboration can often exceeds its reality. Jittery video, audio latency, eye-straining definition, unreliable network service, lax security… when any of these problems emerge, teams are unable to effectively tackle the tasks before them and the advantages of remote collaboration are lost.
So, what’s an IT team to do when the business demands pristine collaboration but UCaaS solutions are lacking? While there’s no shortage of options, only a few providers exceed expectations within typical budget constraints.
To make sure workplace collaboration meets 21st century needs, here are the top criteria that decision-makers must insist on when considering UCaaS solutions/providers:
- Mobile readiness. Workers need to be able to access meetings or tackle assignments anytime, anywhere, on any device. To be seriously considered as a resource, UCaaS solutions must deliver on this promise.
- Tools aplenty. The days of workers simply “Going to Meeting” are over. Today they need tools to do it all – IM/chat, voice, video, presence and annotation, providing the ability to access, share, present and collectively edit documents, all in real time.
- Unified functionality. Sure, there are standalone solutions out there, such as web or video conferencing, but a single solution that integrates UCaaS functionality is now the true price of entry. This provides a better user/customer experience and simplifies support/management.
- Affordability. You already know a cloud-based solution is best, as it frees up capital and frees IT to focus on bigger things. What you may not know is not all UCaaS options offer the same value. Get a thorough explanation of pricing, factoring in everything required, especially for new or added-value services that may be optional.
- Analyze the extras. Do you need 10 seats for collaborative videoconferencing? How about 20 or more? Is real-time collaboration possible? Can you instantly transfer a conversation that started on IM to an online meeting room? Some providers offer more robust or higher quality options than others, so make sure all of your essentials are available.
- Superior network. Sophisticated and comprehensive collaboration tools are only as good as the network behind them. Performance, quality and reliability are indispensable to the CX / customer experience. Ensuring UCaaS is always available, all the time, is a key driver behind the rapid rise of SD-WAN, which enables users to realize the full potential of the cloud.
- Solid SLAs. Promises are nice, but the proof is in the provider’s service level agreement (SLA) guarantees. Insist on a provider with the most stringent SLAs, considering your particular cost, security and reliability requirements.
The door to the Meeting Room in the Cloud
Cloud-based UCaaS and collaboration platforms are rapidly becoming commonplace across all industries, especially for knowledge workers in healthcare, engineering, architecture and other disciplines that demand reliable, real-time collaboration tools. But not all solutions are created equal.
Choose the right one to take your next conference to a meeting room in the cloud. EarthLink’s integrated UCaaS offering actually includes functionality that goes by that name; EarthLink Meeting Room. Whatever route you choose, you now have a strong list of criteria to compare options. Though if I’ve overlooked anything else that was important to you, do let me know; I’m all about collaboration as you may have guessed.
– Kevin Courteau
EarthLink is now Windstream
Using a cloud-based UCaaS model for unified communications, organizations can lower costs, reduce complexity and improve end user productivity and user/customer experience. Download our white paper, The UCaaS Era Begins, Why the Future of Unified Communications is in the Collaborative Cloud, and learn how, in contrast to the narrow uses and inflexible characteristics of legacy voice and UC systems, cloud-based UCaaS delivers multiple tangible benefits for organizations of all sizes.
EarthLink is now Windstream