Millennials now represent a majority of the U.S. workforce, according to Pew Research Center, and their expectations of an “always on” experience is influencing the adoption of unified communications (UC)—something that’s been around for more than a decade but, until recently, had pretty slow uptake.
UC integrates real-time communication—like video conferencing, instant messaging and data sharing—with more traditional options, using a unified interface that’s consistent regardless of medium or device.
For millennials, such a seamless experience is practically the norm. For organizations under pressure to adopt a more flexible and sometimes even remote workforce, the business case is clear: UC enables a more agile, cohesive and competitive workforce.
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This is helping to drive what IDG Enterprise describes as “a surge of adoption in the next 3 years. Fifty-six percent of enterprise and 66% of SMB organizations plan to implement or upgrade [unified communications and collaboration] solutions within the next year.”
Having the tools available isn’t enough, however; for businesses to gain an advantage from UC, they’ll need to get all their workers on board by encouraging a culture that embraces collaboration, offering training to those who are less adept with technology, and finding a UC platform that’s easy to adopt because it’s the right fit for the organization.
1. Workplace Flexibility is an Expectation
A survey by Bentley University found that 77 percent of millennials say flexible work hours would increase their productivity at work, while nearly 40 percent believe remote or virtual work would do the same.
Millennials aren’t the only ones looking for balance; an employee survey by PwC found other generations just as likely to “feel so strongly about wanting a flexible work schedule that they would be willing to give up pay and delay promotions in order to get it.”
It’s a challenge to sustain a culture of camaraderie and teamwork in such a fluid environment. With UC, employees have the mobility to work outside the office environment and the “9-to-5,” allowing them to connect with colleagues regardless of location, time, or even device. They can:
- Maintain dynamic work schedules
- Build stronger and more cohesive teams
- Speed up the decision-making process
Without UC, it’s next to impossible to keep everyone connected. Organizations that hesitate to deliver flexibility face lower employee satisfaction, higher turnover rates, and stiffer competition in the battle for talent.
2. Teams Have Better Things to Do Than Juggle Communications
The organizations that will most successfully navigate this evolving business landscape will be those that think in terms of integrated communication, not isolated or standalone tools.
Different generations have different expectations when it comes to communication. UC allows workers to manage their communications—emails, video chats, IMs or phone calls—in a way that works for them, from a single interface. This helps save time, reduces operational costs, and boosts productivity.
Successful integration can only come with a high degree of comfort, however. To help workers get past any inhibitions, IT must be ready to offer training to help non-IT users familiarize themselves with UC’s options and benefits.
3. Big Data Helps Pinpoint Highs and Lows
Training isn’t the only thing that will help employees embrace UC—the first step is finding the right platform for the organization. With big data, this might be easier than you think.
Organizations generate a ton of data about their communications: Volume, flow, fail points, common use cases—data that can be leveraged to troubleshoot strengths and pinpoint weak spots in a system. With analysis, this data generates a map of how information moves within an organization—and a list of requirements a UC platform will need to meet in order to be a good fit.
In many ways, millennials are a force that has driven businesses to a point where UC is essential to a new way of working—and they’ve influenced older generations to join them for the ride. To stay competitive, businesses need to be aligned with changing demands and expectations—otherwise, in the longer term, they’ll have too far to reach to catch up.