As more and more organizations migrate their data from on-premises client servers to the cloud, end users are discovering the benefits of having their communications tools, platforms and applications under one unified roof.
That of course is unified communications, a collection of technology solutions that organizations implement to creates an environment for seamless and secure real-time collaboration between team members. While it doesn’t describe just one platform or application, unified communications represents an integrated system of enterprise communication devices and applications that allows data to be transferred between different mediums.
Think Microsoft 365 or Google’s G Suite, says Julian Phillips, senior vice president of global workplace solutions at AVI-SPL.
Under those platforms exists the entire framework of how an organization communicates. Email, video chat, collaboration tools, instant messaging, data sharing and desktop sharing are all integrated.
“In other words, I am now presented to my world as a human being,” says Phillips. “I’m not a telephone number. I’m not a fixed directory of departments. I’m a person. And that’s a fundamental principle of the way the presence works.”
That individual user is now presented in that directory as a person and different unified communication tools and services can now be brought to that person in real time.
“All the data that I have access through Single Sign On and through the active directory, everything that the organization tells me I should have access to, I can now go and get that document to get access to that data in the cloud,” Phillips says.
The business case for unified communications
With that natural migration to the cloud, business workflow and application integration is moving from that client server to the cloud, breaking down the siloed technology environment of previous decades.
“That means their unified communications platform of choice is going in that same direction,” Phillips says.
This provides countless benefits to organizations and particularly large enterprise with a global workforce, like seamless real-time collaboration, mobility, productivity and security.
Unified communication platforms also help support a global, remote workforce. Due to COVID-19, migrating to the cloud and a unified communication platform is important more than ever.
According to Phillips, customers are accelerating that journey with many employees still working remotely. Rather than a gradual deployment, companies are realizing that they should already live on a unified communication platform.
“They’re now coming back and saying we need this done in 2020,” Phillips says. “We’re seeing what was already defined as being the inevitable migration to a cloud architecture to a unified communication platform, now accelerating.”
Decentralizing your organization’s data into the cloud and embracing a true unified communication model also strengthens your organization’s security posture.
“Effectively, I’m moving my corporate firewall and extending that into the home,” Phillips says.
For example, an employee working for an organization over Microsoft 365 can’t access Microsoft products unless there is an active directory in the cloud.
“With active directory in the cloud, I get single sign on and multi-factor authentication,” Phillips says. “So I know when I have a user connected to services, they have to go through that secure process.”
That security factor is a fundamental element of unified communication, another is presence, Phillips says.
“If I’m actually typing away on my computer, I go green to the world,” Phillips says. “If somebody wants to reach me, they just have to connect to me and then directly through to me.”
That fundamentally transforms the way organizations communicate and think about video, telephony and other communication tools.
“Beforehand, we had to call a number and hope there was somebody on the other line,” Phillips says.