A powerhouse duo: UC&C and mobility

Mobile phones are poised to become the go-to device for unified communications and collaboration in the next few years, according to a new survey. As we enter the era of 5G, there’s no better time to start planning for mobile UC&C.

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Singer-actor Ludacris is hosting MTV’s reboot of Fear Factor, a TV show where contestants face their greatest fears in hopes of winning a cash prize. And on The Daily Show, Ludacris told host Trevor Noah that the show’s challenges were going to be more relevant to the culture and technology of today — like forcing millennials to climb a skyscraper to rescue their mobile phones.

Because, these days, their biggest fear isn’t being thrown into a pit of snakes or eating live bugs, but losing their phone.

But it’s not just millennials; every generation has become more dependent (obsessed, even) with their mobile phone. It’s what drove the bring-your-own-device movement, and it’s now driving change in the unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) market.

A new report, The Future of UC&C on Mobile (published by Mobile World Live and PGI), found that smartphones will be the go-to device for UC&C as fixed-line usage wanes. Nearly half (44 per cent) of respondents rank the smartphone as their chosen device for UC&C services in the next few years; other go-to devices include the PC/laptop (43 per cent), desk phone (9 per cent) and tablet (four per cent).

These results aren’t surprising; we’re always on the go, working from home, in conference rooms, at client sites, in airports, in hotel rooms — sometimes in flex spaces where we don’t have a dedicated desk. And we use whatever device is most convenient in that moment, which is often our mobile phone.

The need for flexibility is driving the UCaaS trend, where UC is delivered as a service via the cloud, rather than an on-premise solution. UCaaS, in turn, is driving the need for mobile-friendly solutions that let employees communicate via video, chat and text.

Indeed, it opens up the possibility of using text, an “indispensable communications tool” for business users, according to Michael F. Finneran, president of dBrn Associates Inc., in a blog post for Enterprise Connect. He says text is a market where UC providers have been largely shut out. That may be about to change.

“Text and UC cross paths in two important areas: internal employee-to-employee (E2E) chat and external business-to-consumer (B2C) chat. The former falls under the purview of UC&C and team collaboration platforms, while the latter is an enormously important factor in the contact center business,” writes Finneran.

Like any technology, UC&C can’t remain at a standstill; it has to adapt to the digital workplace, where employees can use whatever device, and whatever collaboration tool (including in-app collaboration tools), they choose, wherever they happen to be at that moment in time. UC&C should no longer be regarded as a standalone application; it should be woven into workflows, projects and tasks.

There are, however, a few things holding back mobility in the UC&C world, such as audio quality. The Mobile World Live survey found that HD audio with background noise suppression is the feature most likely to encourage greater smartphone usage (at 43 per cent), followed by ease of access (25 per cent), enhanced battery life (16 per cent) and improved data plan usage (12 per cent).

In terms of network developments, respondents cited improved network coverage as the top driver of future UC&C deployments on mobile (at 33 per cent), followed by enhanced call quality (29 per cent), faster download speeds (13 per cent) and enabling 5G (13 per cent).

As we prepare for the age of 5G, it’s a good time to start thinking about how to take your UC&C strategy to the next level. Take a page from Ludacris and Fear Factor — by making your UC&C strategy more relevant to the culture and technology of today.

Image: iStock

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