The way people work is changing fast – and competitive companies need to keep up. On site and remote employees alike rely on conferencing, multimedia, and instant messaging to get their jobs done. Managing all these services from a single environment is essential for maintaining profitability says Andrew Gray, EMEA Marketing Director, ShoreTel.
The constraints of today’s economic landscape – slashed spending, higher expectations, cycles of growth and downsizing, varying degrees of user savvy – has placed huge pressure on decision makers and IT staff alike to just “make it all work!” ShoreTel’s brilliantly simple IP business communication solutions take the pressure off. We have combined powerful, fully integrated unified communications (UC) and contact centre capabilities with an overall ease only made possible by native IP. The result is a portfolio of all-in-one IP solutions that enjoy the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry.
With comprehensive Unified Communications solutions, businesses can ensure:
• Increased productivity – UC solutions allow users to quickly locate contact information, place calls, share documents, and access training material.
• Better collaboration – UC solutions enable true employee collaboration by providing a single platform for voice, email, and multimedia use and access.
• Cost savings – UC solutions can provide significant total cost of ownership (TCO) savings and quicker time-to-value by consolidating assets and avoiding the need to purchase additional servers and other equipment.
• Enhanced mobility capabilities – UC solutions provide employees the tools they need to work anywhere, with any device, at any time.
Before you embark on finding an appropriate UC solution, determine your business needs. Some organisations will want to focus on enhancing the productivity of individuals by implementing new capabilities such as instant messaging, presence detection, or click-to-call. Other organisations need ways to eliminate bottlenecks, such as business workflows. In many cases, organisations benefit from first concentrating on individual productivity and then later identifying opportunities for business process optimisation.
Successful deployment of a UC solution depends on careful evaluation of your technical preparedness. For example, is your network ready? The infrastructure must be capable of delivering sufficient throughput and meeting latency, jitter, and packet-loss requirements. Ask potential vendors whether they offer network assessment tools and services, which can help determine whether your network is prepared to support IP telephony and other real-time UC applications.
ShoreTel believes there is a simple test for judging the success of applications. If they are easy to use, there’s a good chance they’ll succeed. If not, their future is less than rosy. This formula is being played out now in the mobile unified communications space.
Looking at apps today on smartphones and tablets – some are intuitive, some aren’t. If people are trying to access apps and they are not simple to use, people will forget about them. For the most part, companies recognise this fact. They want to accommodate employees looking for new ways to collaborate using their iPhones, iPads and Android devices as the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend continues to ramp up along with the popularity of mobility.
These businesses have a great opportunity to serve their workers – and save money – by providing employees converged solutions embracing collaboration brought on by BYOD, mobility, and UC. But the solutions need to be easy to use. We are moving into a multimodal world of communications and collaboration where we are no longer in our office doing business by making phone calls. More often employees are on our mobile phone and sending instant messages and texts. We may even want to do a video presentation whilst on the move.
The ability to seamlessly switch between these modalities with mobile UC apps becomes an important consideration. UC vendors need to focus more on these issues. For example, what should be a simple, enjoyable process for setting up a conference call is often stressful, as an organiser often has to juggle phone numbers and passcodes. If we can find a way to enable the user with a single click to join a conference call – that’s going to make that user want to use that conference where they can hit one button and they’re in a conference bridge.
Or, if a sales person is on a call with a customer and he realises he needs to ask an engineer a question, he should be able to send an IM to his sales support engineer and ask him for clarification on the customer’s question. That makes him look responsive and more effective because he doesn’t need to hang up, make a call, and call back. He wants to give a fast response to the customer’s question and business needs, and he will look until he finds apps that will do it for him.
ShoreTel recognises that sales teams will willingly adopt such apps. We understand the value in such communication and collaboration for closing sales. Although users ultimately dictate the success or failure of applications, some in the industry are slow to recognise this fact. There can still be frustration with using applications not purpose-built to provide the best mobile device experience.
UC adoption on the mobile side is not yet as advanced as it should be, nor as high as it will ultimately get. The challenge for UC is how to drive adoption up. Vendors will have to deliver solutions that improve productivity while making the user experience attractive. These solutions must be simple to use so the channel partners can highlight these benefits and make a compelling case to their customers. ShoreTel’s indirect sales model empowers our reseller community to ensure customers are equipped to realise the full potential of these solutions to give workers more freedom in how they communicate and collaborate.
UC mobility apps should be able to connect simple interfaces with mobile platforms and be intuitive to use. Proprietary solutions provide a less interesting experience. If you use an iPhone or an Android, you should be able to easily connect and integrate your mobile with UC platforms. To make these apps work better, vendors need to focus on the user and drive benefits to the customer.
As the popularity of enterprise BYOD programmes continue to grow, mobile UC solutions ensure that employees remain productive while working on their personal devices. ShoreTel’s brilliantly simple approach to unified communications has enabled the business to deliver solutions – such as the ShoreTel Dock – to a rapidly growing number of European businesses. When it comes to simplicity in deployment and scaling, some vendors have it and others simply do not.
To keep the total cost of ownership low, avoid complexity by looking for solutions that provide:
• One headquarters server (less hardware to buy)
• One converged conferencing appliance (easy to manage)
• All UC applications on a single network
• Low energy consumption
• Single end-to-end support agreement
• Easy deployment and use right out of the box
• Clear migration path with simple remote upgrades
ShoreTel customers are delighted when they discover a solution that is as easy for a workforce to learn and use as it is for IT staff to deploy, manage and scale. ShoreTel transforms seamless communication and collaboration from an elusive goal into a vital and competitive engine. Its minimal strain on IT resources leads to an unprecedented low total cost of ownership.
Barriers between people and locations are being removed. At home, on the road, or with their mobile devices, end users can make an impact with a consistent and unified interface that frees individuals to choose the most appropriate means of communication and collaboration. Unlike other options on the market, ShoreTel’s UC solutions enable your workforce to be up to speed in no time.
Whether you need just the basics for a single location, or a multi-office and contact centre solution with application integration, ShoreTel has the innovative technology and expertise to provide a phone system experience our customers truly love. There is no need for long training sessions or steep learning curves. Instead, end users are consistently delighted by how intuitive ShoreTel’s UC solutions really are.
ShoreTel is a leading provider of business communication solutions. Users have full control to engage and collaborate, no matter the time, place or device, for the lowest cost and demand on IT resources in the industry. ShoreTel is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, and has regional offices and partners worldwide.