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Devices Matter as Mobile UC Becomes a Requirement

November 06, 2015

Mobility is becoming more and more of a must-have when it comes to unified communications (UC) deployments. The demand for increased workplace flexibility, the far-flung nature of today’s partnerships and an ever-more on-the-go workforce are all necessitating enterprises to have a mobile strategy—and UC is emerging as the best way for IT departments to get their arms around the trend. But the right device strategy—beyond the phone or tablet—will be critical to getting the most out of any deployment.

Bring your own device (BYOD) and shadow IT (a.k.a. bring your own application) means that employees are often accessing work resources and moving work materials around using devices and networks and apps that the IT department has no control over. According to John Howard, director of UC collaboration, EMEA, for Logitech for Business, companies are looking to rectify this by giving employees a mobile, intuitive experience via their UC platforms.

“Without doubt, the mobile app market and increased connectivity are writing the next chapter of enterprise UC, and it is quietly developing around us,” Howard said in a blog. “IT departments will find that adopting this technology will help them better manage their workforces who are increasingly finding the desk unit a productivity desert.”

Plenty of collaboration vendors such as Microsoft and Cisco already offer mobile apps for their UC systems, and other UC players are investing to make features like white boarding, screen-sharing and single-reach number standard for mobile users.

Image via Shutterstock

As better bandwidth for 4G and more pervasive high-speed Wi-Fi becomes available, “further enhancements of the UC 'skin' and intuitive user interfaces coupled with stability in application performance is going to further drive mobile UC,” Howard said.

But a potential stumbling block remains in the form of device support. Beyond the smartphone or tablet itself, a range of corporate peripherals is changing the endpoint landscape.

“It used to be that the only PBX endpoints were classic telephones and that only certain employees, typically those who spent the whole day on the phone, used headsets,” explained Phil Edholm, president and founder of PKE Consulting, in a column. “But at least four factors are driving a dramatic change in the in-office adoption of headsets and other audio devices, including USB and Bluetooth-connected [devices]. The result is a growing market for UC audio peripherals.”

Thus, companies should make sure that their collaboration products are certified for use with a range of UC platforms, like Cisco Jabber, WebEx and Skype for Business.

Jabra Motion for instance is a line of Bluetooth behind-the-ear wearing wireless headsets with full mobile UC integration.

“While these devices are important for UC operation, they often come as afterthoughts in most new communications deployments,” Edholm said. “However, they are rapidly becoming the primary physical user interface to the communications platform. As such, these devices often are a significant if not the most important factor in call or session quality and user reaction. I believe that making the right audio headset or other audio device decisions as part of a UC rollout is critical for ensuring adoption and managing total costs.”

If companies get the device strategy right, “4G is providing a massive improvement in mobile bandwidth and Wi-Fi speeds are increasing with fiber to business and home. This will have a huge impact on employees having a real choice to make a video call from a device of their choosing,” concluded Howard.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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