Unified communication is the Holy Grail of the modern office.
Just like the Grail of lore, there are all sorts of myths and falsehoods being spread about how it can be found, and what you’ll achieve if you find it.
Of course, the idea that an ever-expanding world of communication platforms and possibilities can be simplified down to a single tool that can be used by every employee across every workplace scenario is too enticing not to pursue.
So it’s easy to understand why UC has become such a marketing buzzword for video conferencing vendors in particular. But the search for such a solution should always keep the end user at the forefront, no matter how shiny and futuristic the hardware or app looks.
That’s why it is encouraging that the latest company to announce it has solved the UC problem, Fuze, is urging businesses to treat their employees like customers and put their needs first.
Unified Communication That Is Easy to Use
I say Fuze is the latest to crow about its unified communications platform because their press release was issued in mid-October. However, by the time you get this far down this post there have probably been a few more vendors who’ve laid claim to having the best UC platform. It’s that hot a marketing button right now.
Fuze–which was one of several cloud-based services bought by Thinking Phone Networks in 2015, which then adopted the Fuze branding as their own–is at least headed in a direction we can agree with by focusing its attention on the employee/end-user experience.
It means adopting a familiar interface across devices and letting people shift easily from video call to messaging to email.
They claim through their own research that employees are currently using four to six different communications apps at work each day. That figure seems believable once you consider just how many messaging, email, video chat, social media, and team project platforms are currently floating around us in cyberspace.
And while no one is using these individual services because it makes life harder, once you spread yourself across that many platforms it can be difficult to keep track of just who is doing what, where, when, and why–and even how to find any of those things out.
So Fuze is proposing an all-in-one global app that contains all the voice, video, and messaging you’ll ever need, and it has already won praise for its clean look and ease of use.
What’s more, Fuze is urging businesses make their employees give up their other toys.
That’s another approach we like.
Unifying Communications by Mandate
If you approach UC as a people problem, and not a tech problem, you can quickly change the work habits of an office.
There’s something of a myth floating around that in order to best equip your team you need to make every available VC and communication tool available to them.
In fact, removing excessive choice and introducing a single solution could be more beneficial.
If employees need to install and learn only a single system for both internal and external communications it is more likely they adopt it, and more likely they’ll succeed in streamlining the way they work.
Again, the focus is on making things easier and more accessible for employees.
But Fuze faces a lot of competition to win the hearts and apps of businesses seeking a unified solution. Just about everybody, from Avaya to Vidyo, claims they’ve created the ultimate unified communications platform, and a couple of big players have already established themselves.
There’s Plenty of UC Competition
Cisco and Polycom have been at this unified communications game a lot longer than Fuze, and they’ve built a strong following.
Polycom, in particular, has been wise to cozy up with Microsoft to directly integrate common workplace tools like Skype for Business and Office 365 into their video conferencing and communication offerings. Just recently, Polycom was announced as one of three vendors invited to create new hardware to power Skype Room Systems that have native Skype for Business functionality and instant video calling.
When you combine that familiarity with their record in fitting out VC rooms with some of the most advanced tech around–albeit with a hefty price tag–Polycom has a good head start over Fuze in the UC race.
Of course, ultimately, it may be something as workaday as licensing and maintenance costs that drive a company’s decision-making in the unified communications field.
But instead, let’s hope the Fuze example of treating loyal employees like fickle customers and striving to create something they’ll actually want to use is taken on board as the search for the unified communications grail continues.
Image Source: Flickr CC User NEC