Over 60 per cent of Canadian enterprises are now using some form of unified communications to drive a culture of collaboration, according to an IDC study.

Unified communications (UC) provides new ways for organizations to engage with customers, partners and employees, anywhere and at anytime. It’s a rapidly evolving market, with an increasing number of users adopting UC services in the cloud, Lawrence Surtees, research vice president with IDC Canada told participants at a recent ITWC webinar.

“The power of combining new technologies is making a profound change,” said Surtees, “UC is moving to application-driven platforms that more closely align with business needs.”

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Sponsored by TELUS and hosted by ITWC CIO Jim Love, the webinar looked at what’s driving the adoption of collaboration tools in the cloud, along with the key factors to ensure a successful implementation.

Why cloud collaboration is hot now

Unified communications products have been around for two decades, said Surtees, but are becoming more popular now as a service. Surtees and Mike McDermott, cloud consultant with TELUS, outlined the benefits of adopting UC as a cloud service.

  1. It advances an organization’s digital transformation by providing anytime, anywhere communications.
  2. It makes businesses more competitive. Surtees said that 86 per cent of Canadian firms are using cloud and almost half are using UC cloud services.
  3. The services are in demand due to the explosion of mobile. Seventy per cent of workers are mobile at some point, according to Surtees.
  4. It meets the needs of the changing work force. By 2020, millennials will be 50 per cent of the workforce, said Surtees. “Their habits are changing the requirements of the workplace.”
  5. It provides the same benefits for small business as for large ones, helping them to improve their productivity, said McDermott.
  6. It increases business agility. “It’s easy to change the end user’s services or to scale up or down as needed,” said McDermott.
  7. It’s a highly available service in an environment that cannot tolerate downtime.
  8. It provides better service levels. McDermott explained that UC cloud providers are accountable for the entire service because it’s located in their data centres.
  9. It reduces risk because the provider ensures the service is always current and fully supported.
  10. There are significant cost savings. “It’s a pay-per-use model,” said McDermott. “But there are also savings on maintenance, voice trunking and a reduction in disparate technologies.”

What to consider before you implement UC cloud

Effective adoption of UC services requires careful planning, said Surtees. “Due to the differences in each business, this is a custom journey. There is no one size fits all.”

The first step is to learn about the capabilities of UC cloud solutions, said McDermott.  “But the most important thing is to develop a clear idea of what you want to achieve,” he said. “Talk to your stakeholders internally on how they would change the way they communicate and collect the business requirements across the organization.”

Once the objectives are clear, McDermott said that organizations should meet with several providers to see how they can meet the business needs. “Be sure to look underneath the covers of any proposal,” said McDermott. “Ask for references and check their finances to be comfortable that they can deliver because once you see the benefits of cloud UC, you’ll be in it for the long term.”



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