Where is your office? Does it have a specific address? I'm writing this piece at 35,000 feet on a flight from Washington to Los Angeles. Right now my office is a 737. Yesterday it was my home office. I also frequently work at my desk in our corporate headquarters in suburban Washington, DC. So, where is my office, really?
The answer is everywhere, and nowhere, and this redefinition of where we work also redefines how we work. Remote working is outpacing job growth in the United States by more than tenfold.
Global Workplace Analytics found that, "For the period from 2005 to 2012, the telecommuter population grew by 79.7% while the non-self-employed workforce grew by only 7.1%."
The need to support a mobile enterprise workforce is increasingly being met by shifting from premise- to cloud-based unified communications (UC). Deploying UC services via the cloud to tens or tens of thousands of employees offers a number of advantages to businesses over premise-based UC solutions.
This article evaluates four enterprise benefits of shifting from premise to cloud-based unified communications, and how this shift can spur broader user enthusiasm and adoption of UC services.
Enabling the remote office
The first, and most obvious benefit of a cloud UC solution is the ability to work from anywhere. Today's workforce demands the flexibility to work remotely – and it isn't just millennials or part time workers. According to the 2014 Census Bureau annual American Community Survey, the "typical" telecommuter is a 49 year-old college graduate who earns approximately $58,000 and is part of a company with more than 100 employees.
Cloud UC is more practical than a premise-based alternative for meeting these communications requirements and enabling mobile workers to instant message, check presence status, and easily initiate and/or participate in video meetings from any location at any time. These capabilities are possible with a premise-based system, but at a cost to IT.
The IT department faces a number of challenges in supporting remote workers when the UC platform sits behind an enterprise firewall. VPNs, servers in the so-called DMZ (the demilitarized zone between a company's private network and the outside public network), and the associated management are real, tangible costs to the business that can often be avoided or significantly reduced with a cloud solution.
Enabling outside collaboration
As important as it is for the team to connect internally with colleagues, it may be even more important to extend these capabilities for communication with partners, vendors, and customers.
The goal of UC is to bring collaboration without boundaries to the enterprise. Exchanging IMs with partners, vendors, and customers, speeds up business. Video provides an emotional connection that builds bonds between team members inside and outside of the business.
Cloud UC enhances business-to-business and business-to-consumer communications by making it cost feasible and as easy as, for example, sharing a URL to connect external parties directly into a video conference, or even a connect to a telepresence room.
Contrast that with a premise-based UC solution that requires special security requests and permissions. Cloud UC works with a browser and a click. It frees up the IT Department from handling these mundane tasks, and it exposes rich, real-time communications to participants outside of the enterprise.