B2B UC Collaboration Is Key Factor For Enterprise User Adoption

30 Nov 2014

Recent market studies show that organizatons are not fully realizing their investment in deploying Unified Communication (UC), even though the technology is proven to improve communication and collaboration. Moreover, they are becoming more easily available as a cloud-based service (UCaaS). One reason companies aren't getting value out of their investments is the fact that UC implementations still suffer from low end-user adoption and usage. The less usage of UC capabilities by end users, the less real ROI will be produced through increasing business process productivity and reducing the communication friction of email and phone calls. Conversely, the more usage of UC as a real-time collaboration tool, the greater the value that end-users receive, and the greater return on investment for the organization.

UC is primarily deployed to improve internal communications and collaboration, enabling workers to view presence status, have real-time interactions, and collaborate with their co-workers through chat, voice, video and conferencing. However, most end-users do not find the UC value proposition useful enough just for communicating with people within their office or their own departments. Studies show that the likelihood of adoption is much higher when end users can stay in touch and have real-time access to external colleagues, such as partners, customers, suppliers, and others with whom they interact on a regular basis. Think about it - if you could view presence status, have "click to call" capabilities, and seamlessly pull people outside of your organization, as well as people inside your organization, into conferencing sessions, the value of your UC investment dramatically increases.

Driving Up End-User Acceptance of UC

To increase the payoff of their deployed UC platforms and UC-as-a-Services, a growing list of enterprises are focusing on encouraging person-to-person contacts between people inside and outside of the organization. Forward-thinking enterprises are building B2B UC collaboration into sales, production, product development, procurement, marketing, and logistics processes. The results include fewer emails, increased productivity, faster time-to-market, and reduced telephone charges.

These companies' end-users are realizing that UC's presence capabilities can make it possible to check someone's availability before contacting them, thus avoiding having to leave a voice message, and they use Instant Messaging to check whether a colleague is available for a real-time interaction. We've all received instant messages asking "R U there?" or "can we talk?" More and more of their workers are sending short IM's before initiating a call, ensuring a higher connection rate. This helps reduce the number of voice mails that workers have to leave or respond to, as individuals can see whether someone is available before making the call. End users need to be able to use presence-driven real-time communication modes to connect with individuals outside of their company, not just co-workers.

Making flexible real-time contacts with people outside an organization as seamless as having real-time communication with internal co-workers is still a challenge. Companies still face a number of issues: any-to-any interoperability between UC platforms, the ability to quickly and reliably scale, and security pose major challenges.

Depending on the platform, the gateways provided by UC vendors may offer limited interoperability. Even if federation is established, presence states can be unreliable or inaccurately mapped. Inviting external colleagues into multi-party chat sessions is not supported, and escalating chat sessions into voice and video calls is still out of the question. Cloud-based UC services, despite their advantages, are, in fact, "walled gardens" with restricted external federation capabilities.

To tackle these challenges companies are evaluating a number of options, including NextPlane UC Exchange, which provides a secure, scalable, any-to-any federation service that enables B2B UC collaboration with partners between disparate UC platforms including Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, BroadSoft, Unify, Mitel, Genband, OpenFire, and others.

UC Exchange handles presence, chat, multi-user chat, voice and video calling between users and their external colleagues as if they are on the same UC platform. In addition, UC Exchange handles little things that can make a big difference to end-users, such as custom presence, activity-based presence, user tagging and "is-typing" notifications.

Utilizing UC for communicating and collaborating with customers, partners, suppliers, and other individuals outside of the organization is proven to increase the value of UC as well as end-user adoption of these tools. Imagine being able to see the presence status of a customer before calling them, being able to send a supplier an IM to see if a part is in stock and available, or a payment is being processed. This is where organizations can find the true value of UC.

This paper is sponsored by NextPlane.


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