Unified communications and collaboration (UCC) has changed the way I think about business. There’s no other way to say it. Because of how digital platforms have evolved over the past 20 years, we are all able to work smarter.
Collaboration in the new era of business practices
Unified communications and collaboration (UCC) has changed the way I think about business. There’s no other way to say it. Because of how digital platforms have evolved over the past 20 years, we are all able to work smarter. UCC has made it possible to handle work-related communications anytime, anywhere, and gave us tons of new efficiencies.
Through unified communications and collaboration, we can eliminate silos. We can build new relationships and networks better than ever before.
The impact of UCC is felt to varying degrees in every industry. Every office or team has to use communications and collaboration tools to some extent.
We’ve come a long way since people logged into America Online (AOL) and entered chatrooms just for fun. What started as an entertaining new way to communicate across distance has turned into a key tool for businesses all over the world. But the principle is the same: connecting people.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways UCC is driving a whole new era of business practices.
Alone in the middle of a crowd: Connecting with colleagues despite distance
“About 10 years ago,” says Yann Gourvenec, CEO of Visionary Marketing, “I was working for the international subsidiary of Orange Business Services. I was very often part of teams involved in complex tenders, some of which could take six months to put together. My job was to deliver joint innovation programs within these outsourcing contracts.”
He continues: “Working for such a company was very exciting. We boasted having a presence in 120 countries and territories. The only problem was that, even though I had a lot of people next to me in the office, none of them had anything to do with my job.”
It makes sense that being surrounded by colleagues whose work is disconnected from your own could be pretty challenging when it comes to sustaining team spirit. Fortunately, even if the only thing you have in common with your colleagues in a brick-and-mortar office is that you all deal with the same weather and traffic jams, UCC lets you connect across geography and time zones so that you can still work with your own team members.
“I cannot even imagine what my life could have been without unified communications,” says Gourvenec. “If I go back to the early days of my career, when owning a computer was a privilege, and if I transpose this to my period at Equant, I think my days would have been very lonely and very boring.”
It doesn’t get any clearer. UCC can help businesses retain talented professionals who might otherwise feel disconnected and discouraged.
When people feel safe, they become productive.
“The examples of how I see communication encourage diversity and inclusion are more about people having safe spaces because of different communication platforms,” says Leanne Waldal, Technology Executive at Autodesk and Dropbox.
With that sense of safety in place, she says, “we feel more comfortable speaking up.”
Walk into the average meeting and you’ll find three groups of people gathered together. You have the group that is enthused to be there and can’t wait to share ideas. Then you have the group that listens to the meeting, getting involved more actively only when the discussion is directly relevant to their own responsibilities.
Then you have the group of people who don’t want to be there because meetings make them feel uncomfortable.
It is this last group I wholeheartedly embrace. They often have groundbreaking ideas. They’re just too scared to stand up and voice them. Whether they’re anxious or shy, afraid of public speaking, or simply have a quieter voice than the others, they may be shut down by an in-person group dynamic that fails to draw them out of their shells.
UCC changes the world of business because it puts everyone on an even playing field. The quiet voices are no longer drowned out by the loud ones. People feel safe because they get to be in the environments which make them feel the most comfortable.
UCC changes the concept of what a business can be.
“I have a virtual company,” writes Mark W. Schaefer, author of the book The Tao of Twitter and director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. “Well, it’s a real company, but I don’t have a building and employees and all that traditional stuff.”
He explains, “I work with a posse of talented freelancers who might be spread out all over the country. That means I have the best of both worlds. A great company, great people, but no pressure about meeting payroll every month—except my own!”
Even with all of its challenges, what drives UCC forward is its ability to open the doors of brainstorming. No matter where we are in the world, we can put together the best minds for a project to generate the best ideas. And people can come together to do business without the infrastructure and overhead of a traditional company. Virtual companies like Schaefer’s could not exist without the robust virtual tools that exist in today’s UCC.
UCC is not just a nice-to-have. It’s core to the future of business.
As the nature of business moves increasingly, inevitably, toward mass digital transformation, UCC is becoming more crucial than ever. Brands and businesses need to learn why and how UCC works. If they don’t understand the value of unified communications and collaboration, they won’t adopt it. Without UCC, most businesses will be unable to carry out an effective digital transformation. And without a digital transformation, there’s a good chance that particular business won’t be around five years from now.
Does that sound urgent? It is! But think of it not as an emergency, but as an amazing opportunity to connect with both your customers and your teams.
Every time the technological world improves how we communicate, it brings us closer together. That’s why, even with its challenges, UCC is such an exciting component of my workday, every day.
I have a theory that communication and collaboration tools can reduce unconscious bias and increase inclusion in the workplace. Twenty-plus years ago, before the internet was democratized and made available to everyone, we used to meet face-to-face or experience long delays in getting a response to our ideas.
Some of my favourite scenes from the film Iron Man are the ones that showcase the relationship Tony Stark has with Jarvis.
Desk is cleared off. Mug is washed and dried. Email inbox is at zero. You’re going to be away from the office for a conference or holidays for a few days. You’ll need a way to communicate that you are unavailable.
In a perfect world, workplace communications would always be smooth and free of silos and red tape, and would be smoothly integrated into the digital world to reap the benefits of keeping up with today’s digital world.
When email was introduced in companies at the end of the 1980s, big promises were made: Less paper on desks, faster circulation of information and higher productivity.
Implementing remote working in a business requires an effective management system that can cope remotely.