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How To Be Really “Cool” With UC

UC is a compelling set of real-time tools for any enterprise organization. The “sky is the limit” for the number of practical applications in the enterprise.

UC is game changing, and can be the single largest exciting change in any organization. But have you ever thought of UC as “cool,” “in,” “fun,” and even “trendy?” In my humble opinion, absolutely!
 
If UC can be “cool” for your organization, you will get a lot more traction and success from a UC design and implementation. And here is a big hint: components of UC are already being used in the consumer market, i.e., presence with Facebook, video with iOS Facetime, IM/chat with mobility texting. Consumers are already used to some level of UC, and we can start there for creating a UC environment that is really “cool.”

 

Apps Galore

UC applications can be leveraged just about anywhere – the only restriction is our imagination. For example:

  • “Be Anywhere and Reachable Anytime” With One Number Follow Me. Way beyond just forwarding your landline desktop to a mobile device, one number reach can cover multiple devices either all at once or at seconds-specific intervals depending on the manufacturer offering the feature set. You can be reached simultaneously at your desk, at home, on a laptop, on a mobile tablet, on a smartphone – your choice. You can of course have all calls go to a centralized voice mail box when you are “out” or “not available,” and you can then retrieve voice mail just once either by dialing in or when you are checking e-mail (with voice mail integrated via Unified Messaging).

  • Create a Virtual Organization. Have your staff work from anywhere (literally worldwide) creating a centralized group of DID numbers for your entire organization, or, if you wish, show a local presence with a local block of DID numbers, and leverage VPN clients to make and receive calls from anywhere with any device – phone desktop (office, home, other), laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Reduced real estate rental costs alone will pay for a UC system in almost no time – we have strategically used this area for clients to facilitate an ROI for UC from day one, leveraging real estate cost savings compared with a UC lease/buy strategy.

  • Work from a Remote Site Using a Colleague’s End Point Phone as Though it’s Yours. When working at another facility, you can leverage the “desktop mobility” feature as a means of transforming the device you are working at to your own for the day, including your own DID number, voice mail, speed dial lists, and other unique characteristics of your own device. And unless people already know, most think you are working from your desk, as Caller ID stays with you.

    For one client, we have leveraged this feature for a senior executive who has two offices, one in CA and the other in NY City. This executive retains his CA DID number while in NY using desktop mobility. His Executive Assistant, who is in CA, works alongside him virtually, screening calls and communicating as if he is next door.

  • Communicate and Get a Hold of Key Colleagues Engaged in Strategic, Timely Conversations Instantly. Leverage “presence” (a.k.a. friends lists) to see who within your immediate community of colleagues is available to help solve an issue, get approval, or help facilitate a sale, all within seconds.

  • Create a Compelling Strategy for Disaster Recovery/DR. Provide your organization the ability to work remotely, from home (or anywhere) as an alternate means way of doing “business as usual” during a hurricane, tornado, snowstorm, or other extreme weather-related outage, even a pandemic. Contact center customer service representatives, for example, can answer calls, log into PCs, be measured for SLAs by supervisors remotely, all while working virtually during such an event. Set up correctly, organizations will find that colleagues will be not only be effective working remotely, but studies have shown workers will be actually more productive and work longer hours for your organization when doing so.

    Teams can communicate as though they are in a cubicle or office “next door” and connect via 4- or 5-digit dialing during the event. Implemented correctly (including policies, procedures), you can avoid losses in the millions for your organization during such an event. We have experienced such losses in the NY City metro area during Hurricane Sandy. Those organizations experiencing such a loss will find it will take years to recover financially, and in some cases may never recover to the level they were at “before Sandy.”

  • Contain “Calls” To Only 30 Seconds or Less Real-Time. With IM/chat, you can get the answer you want from an expert in your organization literally within seconds. We already communicate and text with others for “quick hits” to some degree with our mobile devices. You can expand this practice throughout your organization leveraging IM/chat. Such a function can also record text conversations to maintain a quality experience.

  • Look Up Anyone Within Your Organization by Name - Period. With Corporate Directory functionality, you don’t have to remember or dial numbers any longer. Look up you colleagues by name, with no requirement to dial a number, look up or remember a number (you are already doing this with your mobile device).

  • Communicate with Your Strategic Partners’ Organizations Instantly. Many organizations have strategic partners they are intricately involved with and need to communicate regularly, real-time, to engage the help of experts, accelerate product delivery, help facilitate issues, etc. Leveraging UC Federation, you can extend your internal organizational community out to your partners real-time as well.

  • See What Your Colleague is Seeing on Their Desktop Anytime. Leverage collaboration as a tool to share screens with colleagues, even allow a colleague to take over your own screen and add to the conversation. You cannot only hear what your colleague is saying, you can also see what they are doing, a more immersive way to communicate and retain using two media (sight and sound) rather than just one (sound only).

  • Expand Training Programs By Recording Videoconferencing Sessions. Videoconferencing can be recorded, and if orchestrated, can create a huge library for educating and training your personnel throughout your organization, in a central repository. Metrics can be created to see who and how many colleagues attended which sessions. Certification programs can be logged and tracked to ensure your staff are up to date and current with such requirements.

  • Instantly Bring Colleagues Together by Connecting Them Via a Meet-Me or Ad-Hoc Conference. Today’s Conferencing tools can bring together 5, 10, even 20 colleagues together just by dragging and dropping their names to a Web portal/icon and connecting them together to a virtual room. You can also schedule a meeting (meet-me), in advance, and invite colleagues to a meeting by dialing in and sharing the host’s screen.

  • Create a Multi-User, Fully Immersive Experience with Your Colleagues Through Video Conferencing. You can create a fully immersive face-to-face experience leveraging video in your real-time communication – one-to-one, many-to-many, and one-to-many. Today’s videoconferencing tools offer such an immersive experience from a room videoconference unit or your desktop, with collaboration, presence and IM/chat tools included.

  • Listen To All Voice Mails From Your E-mail Inbox. Leveraging Unified Messaging, you can click on a link from an email tagged to voice mail and listen to a message left for you. In addition, Caller ID will attach a number or individual’s name to that email so you will know in advance who left a message for you. No more listening to messages first-in first-out.

  • Bring All This “Cool” UC Functionality To Your Smart Device (Smartphone, Tablet). UC manufacturers now offer a full UC suite in any iOS or Droid mobile device, smartphone or tablet. You can advertise one number, see the availability of colleagues (presence), look up colleagues by name, arrange a conference call or video conference call, chat with colleagues, “ghost” mobile device numbers so people only know your landline number, and more – all from a single mobile device.

 

Out-Of-The-Box Thinking Apps

As consultants serving our clients, we encourage leveraging the “cool” aspects of UC with all of projects we are engaged in. We also encourage “out-of-the-box” thinking, using UC in new and exciting ways. Some of our discussions and brainstorming with clients have taken UC applications to a new level, for example:

  • Police Departments – A Police Department is working towards adding UC clients on laptops in police cars as a way of communicating real-time to anyone within the department. Each police officer would be assigned their own DID number, and desktop mobility would change dynamically to the officer on duty, personalizing the real-time communications experience police departments require.

  • Leverage UC Clients for Physicians – UC clients can be added to any tablet, and physicians, while being mobile, can leverage UC to connect with colleagues via phone call, presence, IM/chat, and other UC functions.

  • Town Board Members – A municipality desires all town and committee Board members to have a UC client and DID number on tablets for regular communication among them. This will harness the power of UC utilizing (a) Web conferencing when a meeting is necessary, (b) chat for quick answers to issues, (c) presence to see who may be available for a quick call, (d) softphone clients for calling one another by name (not number), and (e) one-to-one and many-to-many video conferences among Board members for a more immersive experience.

  • UC Clients For Students – A major university seeks to leverage and put a UC client into the hands of each and every student (over 5,000) installed on tablets supplied to those students. This will provide an immersive experience, connecting students with students, and students with teachers real-time, leveraging university friends lists to connect (presence), IM/chat for class change notifications, cancellations, or requesting help, and even virtual classes given via video conferencing during inclement weather days when class would normally be cancelled.

 

So Is UC Really Cool?

By now I am sure you are considering some out-of-the-box thinking for your own organization, harnessing the power the UC. Yes, UC is “cool,” “fun,” “in” and “trendy,” and it requires a certain level of expertise to deliver on the promise of UC. You can look to those of us on UCStrategies as one of those resources that can help you and your organization propel you forward.

In my opinion, the “sky really is the limit” for UC tools and applications in the enterprise. You can start by test-bedding UC in your own environment, establish policies and procedures for at-home or off-site workers, and leverage UC by creating a “single virtual building environment” 24x7x365. UC is game-changing, enterprise-changing, and culture changing if leveraged correctly, utilizing UC best practices.

Don’t delay any longer. It’s time to begin transforming your own organization in a real-time communications world. Trust me, you’ll be a hero.