Richard Buxton, Director, N4Engage

Out With the Old

Richard Buxton, Director, N4Engage looks at the benefits of integrating collaboration and communication.

In the current climate, many organisations have embraced platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Webex among many others for their daily collaboration and communication needs. All of the major providers have reported massive growth in user numbers and participation since remote working became so widespread. However, comparatively few users have gone ‘all in’ and instead have chosen to retain their legacy telephony, recording and contact centre platforms to address specific needs that they feel cannot be met by these digital platforms.

But this creates challenges. For instance, in a remote environment reliant on technology for seamless communication, using disjointed infrastructure is counterproductive. A classic example can be found in organisations that ask people to join a video call on one platform, with the conversation needing to be recorded on another. What’s more, phone calls might be handled via different systems entirely and the net result is layers of unnecessary complexity, service duplication and technology overspend.

Instead, businesses that focus on converging their communication channels onto one platform can create a seamless experience while maximising their investment in collaboration and remote working. That’s increasingly important for organisations that are now viewing remote, or hybrid, working as a permanent option, even after pandemic restrictions are lifted and there is a full or partial return to the office environment.

So, where are the main advantages of integrated collaboration and communication services to be found?

Across any industry where there is a compliance, training or employee monitoring requirement, integrated collaboration and communication solutions can offer significant advantages. Any organisation that gives financial advice, or takes payments over the phone, for example, can build efficiencies into their processes, with staff using collaboration platforms to speak to customers, using features such as call recording for better analysis of customer service. The widespread availability of integrated cloud-based services also enables organisations to meet their data sovereignty and compliance requirements by storing data on domestic infrastructure.

Maximising organisational and technology efficiency
With collaboration and communication solutions hosted on one platform, costs can be reduced and operations can become more streamlined.

Research shows that the amount of time people spend communicating at work ranges between 50% and 80%. It’s difficult to spot inefficiencies, but with such a significant amount of time spent communicating every day, this is clearly an area that needs special attention. Remote communication is playing a vital role in today’s environment, and businesses need to invest in collaboration tools that improve user experience and keep staff productive.

In practical terms, the workplace experience should provide services such as integrated voice, video, IM & presence, voicemail and messaging, and from the user perspective, a single platform approach enables staff to make and receive calls to anyone, on any device, working from the office, at home or in the field. Similarly, the customer experience can be enhanced by adding multi-channel contact, call recording and compliance solutions.

As many organisations have experienced in recent months, the ability to scale critical service infrastructure on demand can be hugely advantageous. In normal circumstances, this can become a challenge if a business experiences a period of rapid growth or needs to integrate systems following a merger or acquisition. The point is, single platforms play to the business need for agility in the face of new opportunities or challenges. That’s in stark contrast to the difficulties and cost that can arise when trying to increase the scope of disparate platforms.

Integration also reduces the potential points of failure, simplifies maintenance and upgrades and widens the scope for organisations to outsource to specialist managed service providers. In doing so, cost can be moved to a predictable monthly subscription model, which helps users with budgeting, scale and cost control, because, as an OPEX they only pay for what they use.

As organisations invest in technologies that can enhance the capabilities of their remote workers, placing these core requirements onto a single platform can deliver the performance, flexibility and effective user experience they need. This not only helps manage the current infrastructure challenges created by remote working, but puts businesses on a strong footing to fully exploit the power of digital collaboration in the future.

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