As the world changes, so too should the enterprise communications industry. With many exogenous forces impacting IT departments, we have one choice: to innovate or become irrelevant. I’ll choose to innovate every time.
The four exogenous forces creating this need to innovate include:
- Pandemic — While we all hoped this would be gone by now, it has become clear the pandemic will persist well into, maybe through, 2021. The effect is that we are all changing habits, and some of those will become the “new normal.” Just take a look at Microsoft’s latest on this point.
- Personal Mobile Devices — Smartphones and tablets on cellular and Wi-Fi networks are now our preferred mode of communication. Pew Research shows cellular phone ownership at 96% of all Americans, with the majority, 81% of all Americans, using a smartphone version. So, it is safe to assume all employees will have access to a smartphone or will know how to use one if provided by the company.
- Texting — There is an overwhelming preference to text, whether via the native smartphone capability or via any number of specialized smartphone apps. Texting is up 7,700% in the past decade, and 81% of Americans text regularly, creating 6 billion texts per day. And, of course, the message streams in Slack, Microsoft Teams, and many others are also a version of texting, since they can operate entirely through those products’ mobile device apps.
- Online Meetings — Whether it’s Webex, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or dozens of other business (e.g., Pexip, who offers a complimentary copy of the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Meeting Solutions) or consumer options (Skype, Facetime, Facebook, etc.), we have gone online for our meetings. Everything that can happen in a phone call can happen in an online meeting (even if just two people), but video meetings have a lot more features.
So, what to do about this? Only one answer: innovate.
4 Approaches for this Situation
In addition to those strategies, here are a few specific suggestions that come from those strategic options:
1. Really embrace smartphones — What if you assumed that “all enterprise calls would be conducted on a smartphone” and worked backward from that? You will find challenges, but those are solvable. For examples, what if your enterprise were to:
- Route DID calls to the user’s smartphone using session border controller(s) based on Active Directory or LDAP, without even needing a PBX or UCaaS license.
- Provide some level of a monthly stipend to each employee to recognize use of a part of their monthly cellular contract; or
- Offer a better monthly cellular plan if the employee moves to your corporate contract; or
- Provide a company-funded smartphone entirely for that person’s job responsibilities, to be used only during their working hours; this can usually include the option for the employee to subscribe to a special cellular pricing package for their personal phone.
- Port the user’s enterprise DID number to their subsidized or corporate smartphone, so their business number and personal number are the same. (Sure, there are some fancy configurations to answer two phone numbers on one smartphone, but maybe that’s not necessary.)
- Manage security with a mobile device management (MDM) package.
- Create business apps that will run on the smartphone. We’re seeing this become easier and easier, such as with Microsoft’s Power Apps suite.
2. Really embrace texting — Whether you buy into the smartphone idea or not, you can still embrace texting. This does require innovation, as you review your users’ workflows and determine where you will:
- Shift email workflows to texting, using one or more of the many enterprise-grade texting apps (e.g., Kaizala)
- Shift email, calls, or meetings to in-app message streams such as with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and others
- Produce customized texting apps, using easy and powerful CPaaS platforms such as Twilio or Vonage
- Use the text-based messaging functions of many job-specific applications ranging from electronic health record (EHR) packages to logistics applications (most of which run on a mobile device) to facilities management tools such as Maximo and others.
- Use personal meeting room options that make the meeting software into an always-open office environment. Just publish the link and the call-in number and password, and voila, you have an online office. There are some learning curves, but it may be the new way to work.
- Call out to someone whom you would like to join a meeting with you
- Meet one-on-one
- Record everything (perhaps satisfying compliance requirements?) and transcribe each session automatically
- Video is an option, but not mandatory.
So, good luck with your innovation! It seems to me to be imperative.
This post is written on behalf of BCStrategies, an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.
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