Putting Mobile Collaboration to Work

18 Dec 2016

It is no secret that business is becoming more mobile and more collaborative. As they do, enterprises need to equip their people with the tools that will enable this transition. Gone are the days when business could be conducted solely with phones and email. Organizations need to be able to respond effectively anywhere and anytime, and having partners that can support that environment with communications platforms and networks will be key to prospering in this new world.

Unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) platforms have provided the basis for this transformation; however, the focus of UC&C must now move beyond the desktop. The benefit of mobilizing that capability is the ability to enable a new level of efficiency and productivity for mobile workers. The penalty for not capitalizing on these developments will be to put users at a serious disadvantage in this increasingly competitive marketplace.

The new ways of doing business all hinge on the ability to make all of the users' essential business tools available on the go so that they can be integrated into the work process. For example, in the past, salespeople would visit a client or prospect and deliver a presentation either from handouts or via a PowerPoint on their laptop. With an effective mobile collaboration platform, all of the resources of the organization can be at the salesperson's fingertips.

Rather than sticking to a prewritten script, if the customer pivots and wants to talk about another product, all the support information for that product, including videos, presentations and fact sheets, are immediately available. If the salesperson is not fully versed in that product, they can video conference in a product expert to chat with the customer and move the process forward.

Similarly in field service, a service technician can have access to tech support and engineering resources immediately from the work location. That can include conferencing in specialists who are located in different facilities so the tech on site can share a video that lets all team members clearly see the problem they are trying to resolve. This allows all of the organization's resources to be directed at the site of the problem quickly and efficiently.
Many organizations provide design and program development services to customers, for example. With the right UC&C solution, employees and customers located virtually anywhere, including people working from home or from a hotel, can be brought together at a moment's notice to contribute to the development of the project.

This type of capability can impact other fields like health care as well. With an aging population that would prefer to remain at home rather than entering a facility, there is growing use of home health care services. While the home care aide can provide basic services, the addition of a mobile UC&C capability can increase their effectiveness exponentially. If the home health aide encounters a problem or a question, they could connect immediately via video to any number of specialists for a consultation where the determination could be made for how best to proceed with care or whether intervention is required.

The ability to move to this new level requires a UC&C platform, suitable end points and reliable network resources. There are many providers to choose from, which can be daunting. From a platform standpoint, AT&T offers its own leading-edge UC&C solutions such as AT&T Collaborate, as well as integrated solutions from Microsoft and Cisco. Each platform offers a different mix of capabilities and is geared towards different use cases. The one thing that all of these platforms provide is an extensive set of mobile capabilities and endpoints. However, delivering that power where and when it's needed calls for a world-class network. AT&T has invested billions of dollars in building a powerful worldwide communications network - both wired and wireless.

In addition, AT&T can offer consulting services to work with business' internal staff to understand their workflows and help them choose the option that would be most effective.

While wireless technology will be key for reaching out to mobile workers, the quality and performance of the wired network is equally important in connecting those mobile users back to their office-based counterparts. AT&T has been a pioneer in deploying network technologies like MPLS and software defined networks (SDNs).

In the modern work environment, it is also important that the tools correlate to users' work habits and preferences. Millennials represent a growing portion of this new workforce, and they bring with them an intimate knowledge of digital and mobile technologies as well as a fuller appreciation of work-life balance. One key byproduct of that is the shift towards bring your own device (BYOD) programs, where workers want to use their own familiar, personalized devices to be more productive at work.

IT departments need the flexibility to support those requests, but they also need to balance that against the requirement to ensure corporate information is kept secure. AT&T can not only provide the mobile UC&C to support user productivity, but mobile device management/enterprise mobility management (MDM/EMM) systems that will help ensure data on mobile devices is encrypted, highly secure connections to enterprise resources are used, and that any corporate information or applications on those devices can be remotely wiped if the device is lost or stolen or if the employee leaves the organization.

The pace and intensity of business is increasing and the face of the workplace is changing as well. IT needs to equip its users with the tools that will allow them to thrive in this intensely competitive environment. Key to that will be the ability to deliver the platforms and network services that allow users to work from anywhere at any time using whatever device is most effective. AT&T has the full range of products and services that can enable business' mobile workforce to work efficiently and effectively to serve their customers.

This paper was sponsored by AT&T.



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