Unified communications once solely belonged to office desktops and laptops. While workers certainly needed a chance to communicate across departments and company locations, much of this collaboration was done at their desks. But now more and more Australian workers are using mobile devices at work, or bringing their own smartphones or tablets, spurring a need for unified communications solutions to be optimised for a mobile landscape. Enter mobile unified communications, or mobile UC. Mobile UC has started to take off thanks to the increased availability and stability of wireless networks and will no doubt evolve in 2014 and beyond. If you are in the midst of a mobility or BYOD transition or are planning one in the near future, here’s what to consider when it comes to mobile UC.
Fixed mobile convergence
The first step to mobile UC is typically fixed mobile convergence, which integrates public cellular services with private wireless networks. Control point-focussed, enterprise network fixed mobile convergence is currently used more often, and the most common implementation is mobile-to-mobile convergence, which provides the ability to transfer calls between networks to employees using dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular handsets. This method basically identifies if the user is in the office and, if so, sends the call over wireless LAN. If not, the call goes to the person’s cell phone. This approach can limit costs as organisations can choose the least expensive option for routing the call.
Mobile UC on consumer devices
True mobile UC goes beyond sending a voice call to a cell phone. Here, presence comes into play, giving the user a directory of contacts and their availability on his or her mobile device. This ability lets the user make a voice call, send an SMS or email or start a conference. UC vendors are responding to the growing trend of enterprise mobility by enabling special mobile UC software on consumer devices using voice services and data connection.
There is also such a thing as a unified communications tablet making headway in the mobile UC realm. It’s a hybrid between a smartphone and a consumer tablet that integrates with the enterprise UC environment to deliver video conferencing, instant messaging, presence and other tools. These mobile UC devices can also support voice communications unlike regular tablets.
Giving frontline staff anywhere access to information
According to the IDC, enterprise productivity in Australia will increasingly be driven by unified messaging and mobile integration with email. The ability to tap into unified communications tools on a mobile device can “increase speed of responsiveness by giving frontline staff anywhere and everywhere access to corporate applications and information that will bring touch points closer to customers,” said Raj Mudaliar, IDC Australia senior analyst for IT services, in an article last year. Even if your organisation is not ready to take the leap to mobile UC, it pays to begin looking at your strategy to see if such a solution will make business sense in the next five years. Datacom’s unified communications team can assess your current communications infrastructure and business goals to determine the best mobile UC solution for you.