Strategy: Mobile UC
Into the Fold: Mobile Unified Communications Within Reach
The ongoing, if plodding, adoption of unified communications (UC) and the increased employee mobility enabled by smartphones have been headliner trends over the past year. In our most recent InformationWeek Analytics Unified Computing Survey, 61% of more than 400 business technology professionals said they were currently deploying, or planning to deploy, UC. Most cited improved employee collaboration and efficiency as the top drivers. Meanwhile, in our Mobile Device Management and Security Survey, 87% of more than 300 respondents said that smartphone usage would grow in their shops; just 8% said they’d be buying more desktops. On their own, both UC and mobilization have the potential to improve communications. Users want the same capabilities on their smartphones and tablets as they have on their desk phones and laptops, and why not? Bring everything together, and you could transform the way you do business.
Unfortunately, early attempts at mobile UC have failed to gain traction. While the UC keynote at every conference we attend lauds the importance of mobility, when you get down to the show floor, just try finding people with mobile UC applications on their phones. Allan Sulkin of market analyst TEQConsult Group estimates that fewer than 10% of IP PBX station users implement the associated mobile UC application. Most other industry usage estimates are even lower. The result: Organizations are pursuing these two critical initiatives independently, on parallel tracks. There are two primary reasons for this. First, adoption of UC has been slow and haphazard; our survey respondents blame this on everything from a lack of employee engagement to stagnant budgets to aging infrastructures that limit IT’s ability to guarantee QoS. And, there’s a stunning lack of integration between mobility and almost everything else that goes on in IT. Smartphones are everywhere, but we’re behind on security and management, not just UC.
Vendors are making some advances, as we’ll discuss. One thing to note: Mobile UC evolved out of the concept of fixed/mobile convergence. FMC aimed to integrate mobile network services with the wired environment. When the term “FMC” was coined, the only mobile service that really mattered was voice. As a result, the focus was on delivering office calls to a user’s mobile device. As the voice market evolved into UC systems that look at voice as simply one of several communications modes to be integrated, the term “mobile UC” replaced FMC. If you see “FMC” referenced in vendor material, it’s a good indication that the provider’s ideas about communications have not yet progressed to include mobile UC.
Now that budgets are loosening, consider devoting some time and energy to bringing mobile devices into the UC fold. That’s the only way to deliver full productivity benefits. Here’s how. (S2530311)