When Shadow IT and the 'Omnichannel Experience' Collide
By Jose Pastor
It’s no secret to the channel that today’s workforce is on the move, logging in for calls, meetings, messaging chat and collaboration at all hours from various offices, airports, hotels, trade show floors, customer sites, automobiles and poolside while “on vacation." Customer IT departments are looking for ways to deliver mobility to maximize productivity while maintaining control and compliance — and that’s where trouble often starts. Many knowledge workers, especially Millennials, are grabbing and using consumer-class mobile apps. At some point, that will fragment the workforce as teams coalesce around separate solutions.
An organization with dozens of collaboration silos is going nowhere fast.
The answer is not edicts from IT. End users demand communications options that suit their personal work styles and provide the convenience of communicating however and whenever they want, inside and outside the company. Accenture calls this phenomenon “the new omnichannel" and issued a report on the strategy implications for communications service providers as customers blend business requirements with consumer-driven engagement and mobility via (often personally owned) smartphones and tablets. Accenture doesn’t mince words, saying that “the growing need for a seamless, consistent and personalized omnichannel response will soon be table stakes to compete in this ever-changing digital ecosystem."
And compete you must. Transparency Market Research (TMR) estimates that by 2018, VoIP and unified communications will be a $69.1 billion market, yet to date, penetration of this marketplace has been less than 10 percent despite a significant rise in the number of mobile workers across the globe. According to TMR, “growing liberalization around the world has compelled large enterprises to enter cross-border markets, thereby driving the need for collaboration tools to allow employees of a company to effectively communicate with each other."
UCaaS solutions support this very need, and as a result, the market for the same has been receiving a major boost, especially if you have customers with employees or customers overseas: “The impact of this driver will be high during the forecast period, with businesses likely to expand operations to developing regions such as the EMEA and Asia Pacific," TMR predicts.
This is the huge opportunity we have.
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The good news is that you can deliver the tools your clients’ workforces and customers need to have all key communications media available anywhere, anytime, on any device in a controlled, standardized fashion. Selling them on the benefits of UCaaS involves making the case that:
- Moving communications to the cloud can help address the security risks inherent in shadow and rogue IT. That’s a tremendous opportunity, as research shows that IT’s top priorities for 2017 include security, customer experience and moving to the cloud.
- Cloud unified communications and collaboration can free up staff time because it effectively minimizes IT deployment and management time and resources, in addition to decreasing end-user learning curves and training. Automating steps will help teams squeeze every ounce of productivity out of every work day.
- UCaaS platforms that incorporate voice, video, messaging, workgroups, contact center, and global capabilities bring innovation opportunities via open APIs that enable interoperability and streamlining workflows.
- Cloud-based systems let them easily add new people and offices while supporting disparate teams, outside vendors and customers. Walled gardens are a key driver of shadow IT.
When selecting a UCaaS supplier, look for fast provisioning, ease of use and enough communications choices that you minimize the temptation for end users to download consumer apps. If a customer has a global presence, ask about the ability to deliver low latency for a great experience across all continents. For those with investments in on-premises PBXes, ask about the ability to migrate gradually so you can update one office at a time with a UCaaS offering that co-exists with legacy systems.
Jose Pastor is the VP of product management at RingCentral, a leading provider of enterprise cloud communications and collaboration solutions, where he is responsible for driving the overall product road map. Prior to RingCentral, Pastor worked at Corrigo, a cloud-based facilities maintenance and work dispatch solutions provider, where he served for eight years as the VP of product management and marketing.