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How to avoid a poor unified communications experience

How to avoid a poor unified communications experience

Magnus Kristell from Quest says that a poor UC experience can be a major pitfall of remote working

Caspar Herzberg |

From internet outages to full inboxes, IT teams regularly deal with technology hiccups that cripple end-user productivity. Addressing these challenges for a growing remote workforce is a complicated feat that 91% of IT pros are being asked to perform, according to a recent survey from Dimensional Research.

With 83% of organisations expecting their remote workforce to grow this year, the stakes are high for IT teams to provide reliable access to communication and collaboration tools. A recent study from SIS International Research showed poor unified communications (UC) can cost in excess of US$500,000 for lost productivity for organisations of 100 employees.

The challenges that remote workers can encounter with substandard UC systems come in many forms. Poor audio/video quality and screen-sharing functionality in UC apps can generate frustration for both employees and more importantly prospective clients, and missed notifications and error messages can mean all parties are in the dark as to whether critical updates and documents have been delivered on-time or even at all.

In the cases where an enterprise UC system cannot deliver, remote workers may resort to using consumer communication apps to ensure vital information is communicated, often breaking company policy. Due to the nature of these services, 77% of IT professionals are concerned about the security of sensitive business data, as well as the resulting data protection compliance issues.

A poor experience with UC systems could cost the company a client. But over time, frustrations like these will result in lost revenue and lowered employee morale, not to mention to cost of data loss. However, when leveraged properly, UC technologies can be a huge competitive advantage that can deliver unmatched productivity benefits for both the organisation and the remote worker. Organisations can take several steps to help encourage remote workforce adoption and experience the full benefits of their UC investment.

Assess how your remote workforce is using UC
It’s imperative to understand how your remote workforce is using certain communication features. From audio to desktop sharing, tracking feature usage gives organisations the necessary insight into how the UC investment is serving the remote worker. It’s critical to have insight into how your organisation is using UC to effectively monitor for performance, compliance and data loss issues proactively – saving time and resources.

Be mindful of quality of experience
Remote worker environments are less managed and susceptible to more variables that can reduce their overall quality of experience. One example of this is the use of audio and video features over a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection introducing significant real-time network latency resulting in a poor UC experience. A good UC management solution provides access to remote worker quality of experience data, which can then be correlated with the type of network access, to help IT pin-point problem areas and take action quickly to restore quality where possible.

Gain insight into remote worker challenges
Remote workers can sometimes face very specific issues related to UC, including endpoint device compatibility, patch versions of client software, and the type of external network connection they are using. Having easy insight into the versions and cumulative updates remote workers are running allows IT to either proactively prevent certain outdated versions of the client from connecting, or give them better insight into which individuals need upgrades.

Managing your UC investment closely and properly is critical to ensure your organisation’s remote employees are reaping all the benefits of the technology. Enabling a remote workforce with an effective and successful UC implementation can lead to increased productivity, secured communications and improved performance, whilst reducing headaches for IT teams.

Magnus Kristell is Microsoft platform management lead for EMEA at Quest, formerly Dell Software.

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