How Providers Should Prepare for the Collaboration Revolution

By Vishy Gopalakrishnan, AVP of Voice & Collaboration, AT&T

VishyGIf it seems like technology changes are coming increasingly fast, it’s not just your imagination. In a world where smartphones are updated each year, business technology advances are speeding up, too. IT solutions for businesses are also becoming easy to upload and update, easy to deploy on virtually any device, and easy to run through the cloud. In fact, according to IDC, companies are planning to move half their IT workloads to the cloud by this year. It’s less about the device – telephone, screen, keyboard – and more about how these devices and capabilities work together.

 

Over the next several years, I expect to see a great shift from older, TDM-based phone systems, to cloud-based, device-agnostic systems. This shift opens up a new level of flexibility for collaboration technology. Smartphones, tablets, computers, and even meeting rooms are now equipped with everything you need to move from email, to IM, to voice or video calling, to conferencing, and back again. Different communications modes and methods are combining into one, collaborative solution. In short, we’re on the verge of a collaboration revolution.

 

The revolution will require IT departments and providers to shift the way they operate and possibly move out of their “comfort zones.” But those who prepare will position themselves to make the most of this revolution. Here are five ways to get ready to embrace collaboration:

 

  1. Prepare the network for a flood of video.

This part of the revolution is already here. AT&T has seen network traffic grow by 150,000% over the last 8 years, mainly because of video. To make the most of unified communication and collaboration possibilities, video is critical.It’s a data-hungry capability, and dropped connections or slow speeds ruin the experience. Dropped or lagging video calls are unacceptable, and may turn users away from the solution. This means high quality, consistent connectivity is essential –at all times.

  1. Use collaboration tools to drive dynamism.

Collaboration tools, especially cloud-based collaboration tools, can help businesses save costs and react more nimbly to the market. Cloud-based collaboration can reduce travel, facilitate an international expansion, or bring a new office online without a lengthy, time-consuming install period. Employees “in the field” and distributed teams can stay connected with their “home base without missing a beat”. Businesses large and small can use cloud-based collaboration to quickly move and take advantage of opportunities.

  1. Be ready to be flexible.

The amount of traffic to and from cloud-based resources can ebb and flow throughout the workday. Special events can also strain bandwidth that is adequate for normal days. Services like AT&T NetBond®  can provide highly secure connections to cloud platforms and help manage the ebb and flow of traffic, while maintaining high performance and quality of service. NetBond® helps protect the flow of information and scales bandwidth up or down as needed. With AT&T NetBond®, companies can benefit from cloud economics, while avoiding some of the risks associated with connecting to the cloud via the public Internet.

 

  1. Focus on federation.

Collaboration platforms should not be barriers to actually collaborating. Even between solutions coming from different providers, users expect them to just work. Solutions that can “federate”, or bridge across platforms to work together, can help facilitate collaboration between departments, locations, companies, or countries. Ultimately, focusing on solutions that can “federate” with others can save users time, money, and headaches.

 

  1. IT departments need to stay a step ahead.

New collaboration developments and possibilities can move faster than business processes. Already, most workers have unified communications solutions on their smartphones, and may want to use these solutions in their daily work. Some employees may work outside the company’s IT framework to do so, which can be a security risk. IT departments and their providers need to bring useful and secure solutions to employees before they seek it out independently. External suppliers suggest best practices and leading solutions to keep IT on the cutting edge.

 

Change is never easy, but the changes coming for collaboration and communication are exciting. New ways of working better together open up new possibilities for agile, nimble work teams. The collaboration revolution will start in IT, but it will soon impact the whole company.