Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Joining forces beyond borders

Empowering people to collaborate means|removing obstacles, not adding to them, says|Kim Majerus, Managing Director, Cisco Ireland

The need for enhanced collaboration has never been higher up the corporate agenda than today.

An urgency to beat turbulent economic times and the growth of globalisation (by getting more out of the working day, raising customer service without raising costs), has coincided with optimal conditions technologically to propel the roll of unified communications to the forefront of strategic decision-making.

Where once, unified communication was associated largely with the convergence of voice and data networks, today its scope and reach is limited only by the organisation’s imagination.

IP telephony has earned a well-deserved place in the mainstream, thanks not only to the substantial technological advances (in both call quality and security), and the potential cost savings, but also the considerable additional functionality that becomes possible once voice content is freed up from particular handsets and can be integrated dynamically with other applications.

Innovative, high-performing collaboration applications strike straight at the heart of organisations’ fundamental need to work more dynamically and interactively with partners and customers.

Being agile means being able to form and disband teams on the fly, regardless of where people are, who they work for, or which technologies are at their disposal.

Communities or virtual organisations are, for many, the answer to the need to focus, specialise and add value, while keeping costs under control. The right collaboration environment will proactively support this, by bringing teams together swiftly and effortlessly, bridging miles and time-zones through clever use of presence visibility and flexible contact, messaging, conferencing and content-sharing facilities.

Maximum gains come from taking a holistic approach to communications and collaboration, which means organisations should look for solutions that reward rather than penalise them for embracing an entire integrated suite of functionality, through preferential licensing.

Likewise, businesses should be able to opt in or out of the applications, devices and platforms they need to make collaboration work as productively and flexibly as possible for their particular organisation. If there are key business applications already in use in the company, this investment should be protected and exploited.

With the right environment, it won’t matter, either, that users’ workspaces may change across the typical working day — from, say, a PC with broadband in the office or at home, to an iPhone and mobile network for voicemail and email when in the back of a taxi, to a laptop and WiFi hotspot at an airport or train station.

Maximum productivity can be ensured only when the user experience transfers seamlessly from one scenario to the next. This way, no user is excluded and opportunities are harder to let slip through the net.

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