As technologies advance, they come closer to reaching the vision shared by the International Telecommunication Union in 2005: “From anytime, anyplace connectivity for anyone, we will now have connectivity for anything.”
Morgan Stanley estimates that over 75 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. The business implications of those devices supplying an unprecedented amount of data are huge. Thanks to advances in business intelligence, harnessing that data and device interconnectivity means companies who successfully embrace emerging technology—and integrate it into their collaboration workflows—will gain significant advantages over late adopters. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platforms sharpen that advantage by enabling cloud-based communications that allow businesses to collaborate seamlessly around the world.
Here are some key ways a mobile workforce can utilize a UCaaS platform to improve collaboration.
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The world has never been more connected, bridging the gap between people and technologies using modern software and hardware solutions. For a mobile workforce, that means constant information and real-time updates. There’s no need for employees to rush back to their cubicle to check the latest reports; instead, via UCaaS they can just connect from any device to refresh the latest information as it is aggregated and analyzed in real-time.
But where will the data supplying these updates come from? The answer is the billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices constantly supplying data. As this information is integrated into collaborative UCaaS-enabled workflows, businesses experience greater productivity through automated yet agile decision making based on algorithms driven by this data. Enterprise applications might include coordinating data from retailers in the same way Amazon does with its online store. This gives immediate, real-time insight that can help make or inform supply chain decisions. Or, healthcare organizations can use Internet-connected devices to better coordinate staff efforts from a centralized point, providing better care for patients and immediate triage based on need and flow of patients.
In this way, UCaaS enables collaboration across the entire enterprise by collecting and analyzing data and then parsing it for the appropriate audience. Combined with the emergence of IoT technology, businesses can accomplish some truly remarkable things.
For example, unified communications allows businesses to assess real-time needs and collaborate anywhere to address those needs. Say a team member in the United Kingdom receives an automated notification predicting a shipment delay based on weather conditions in Japan. With a few taps, this manager can use his smartphone to share the report with a manager in Japan and begin collaborating on the spot, using available and real-time data to shift shipment schedules to cover the gap. As long as there is an Internet connection, UCaaS allows collaboration anywhere in the world.
Make Employee Collaboration Convenient
Along with allowing employees to work while on the go at any time, UCaaS platforms are the perfect complement to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. From smartphones to personal tablets, employee-owned devices can become collaboration hubs. Even smartwatches can become powerful tools to respond to information it receives to generate messages and collaboration tools on the go.
The interconnectivity of devices, coupled with cloud communications, also offers more flexibility in hiring, so companies can consider candidates from a broader geographical range. This can be a cost-saver and can also improve the productivity of existing workers. Global Workplace Analytics reports 80 percent of employees consider remote work a job perk, and 46 percent of companies who permit telecommuting say it has reduced attrition. Allowing employees to collaborate on their own convenient terms can increase satisfaction and productivity.
How IoT and UCaaS Work in Action
The shift to cloud-based solutions allows employees to work while on the go, anytime. With the assistance of UCaaS cloud technology, this also means tapping into remarkable data from any device. For example, IoT devices could be programmed to send a voice message to specified individuals under certain conditions (such as equipment malfunction), changing the message depending on the issue the user is experiencing, or even their location and language preference.
Let's consider a global team composed of members in Chicago, Tokyo, San Francisco and New York. Given the time zone differences, workers are rarely in their offices at the same time as their global counterparts. But, thanks to UCaaS and IoT solutions, this poses no problem for the team's ability to work together to solve problems.
In this scenario, our global manufacturing company experiences an overnight equipment outage at its Chicago plant and needs to have new parts shipped from Tokyo immediately. A team member in the company’s San Francisco headquarters is notified of the outage via an automated messaging system generated from software in the machinery at the plant. She reviews the data on her tablet and identifies which part has failed. Because replacing the part involves purchases and shipping, she needs approval by from her manager who is currently in London. She calls her manager and leaves a voicemail after sending an email with the relevant data. Since the Cloud VoIP solution used by the team features voicemail forwarding, her manager receives the message, even if he's not at his desk.
After hearing the voicemail, the manager reviews the data on his mobile device and reaches out via a chat service to his purchasing manager in New York to ensure the part is available. When the part’s availability is confirmed, a PO is automatically sent to the purchasing manager who starts the process to rush the new part to the Chicago facility with another email. In addition, all of the necessary parties are automatically notified when the new part is installed and working correctly, ensuring no unresolved issues or further delays. Thus, what could have been a severe issue hindering production for weeks has been resolved in a matter of days.
The combination of UCaaS platforms and IoT devices allows an unprecedented level of global, seamless collaboration. With affordable tools and simple-to-deploy cloud-based solutions, companies of any size can benefit from better collaboration through convenient connectivity.