Part I: Collaboration That Fires On All Cylinders

by George Chongris, Manager, Collaboration Infrastructure
01/31/14 at 01:34 pm

There’s been much talk lately in regards to collaboration, but what is it really?  Is it a system?  Is it a service?  Is it phones? E-mail? Instant Messaging?  Video?   Simply put – yes – to all of the above — but there’s much more to it than that.  These are exciting times, and now more than ever is the time to bridge the gaps between your disparate systems and take your investments and really create compelling inter-personal experiences.

Take your average enterprise environment today – there’s likely a telephone system of sorts with voicemail, an instant messaging platform, a web meeting platform, and some will even have a video conferencing platform of sorts.  Almost all of these run on IP networks and as such, as a user you can access these services from almost anywhere.  Rowan Trollope of Cisco made a great point in a recent speech of his, and the crux of what he said is that once upon a time you’d go home to tools that, communication-wise, would be generations behind what one would have available to them at the office.  Great point – but we all know that is not the case today.  

Great innovations in the recent years — the iPhone, the cloud, fourth-generation (4G)LTE wireless networks, FaceTime/Skype/Facebook— many are extremely easy to use, becoming more and more reliable, and now when you look back, for many folks what is available at home or around them with their consumer devices is more advanced and better integrated than what your IT department gives you, until now… 

Collaboration Systems Release (CSR) 10 is not just another release.  With some consulting expertise to help integrate your collaboration islands, it’s what ties the Communications Manager, WebEx, Jabber and TelePresence benefits together into one easy-to-consume productivity catalyst awaiting attachment to your network for not only folks within the confines and walls of your brick-and-mortar offices, but folks in the field as well.

Take Presidio for example – we are 2,400 strong in 50+ offices across the country — and many of us don’t see our physical offices for long lengths at a time because we are always in front of our customer and meeting with our vendors.  We offer our users every possible way to consume communication services.  Everyone is entitled to their own personal direct number in the locality they cover with Single Number Reach, everyone gets a Unity Connection voice mailbox that integrates their voicemail into their Outlook on any pane of glass their Inbox is delivered to, and everyone gets Jabber IM with softphone capabilities and a WebEx account.

That’s great and all, but what we found is that there are still many who like the ease of use of their mobile phones.  Jabber softphone functionality was a hassle for our workers out and about because it required VPN.  Many of our folks are usually VPN’d in to a customer’s network assisting them, so at that rate, even if Jabber provided a better experience, it wouldn’t be used because of the inconvenience to the user.  Similar user experience challenges with video – a separate software application on a separate system to receive calls from co-workers or customers – some used it, but many did not because it wasn’t natural.

If the technology doesn’t fall to the background and everyone is constantly reminded of it, the behavior isn't natural and many will seek other less complicated ways to accomplish a task if the value doesn’t outweigh the procedure.  

Think about that for a moment – the apps we keep installed on our smartphones and actually use we tend to use because they are straightforward, not complicated, and help us do something better than we did it prior.  If it’s a chore, it tends to sit on the shelf of the last page of our home screens and collect digital dust, assuming we haven’t deleted it altogether!

In my next blog I'll discuss the 10.0 features in more detail....

Now Posted: View Part II here.