Businesses increasingly face pressure from two opposing demands to remain competitive; the need to develop business agility and scalability whilst simultaneously reducing costs.
Most businesses turn to technology as the panacea for this challenge. A notable example in recent years is the implementation of telepresence solutions which allow virtual meetings with associates in distant locations.
High definition collaboration technology offers a flexible solution for reducing a company's travel costs and carbon footprint. However, many now realise that the goal of building and supporting real-time collaboration across multiple regions and time zones is far more important than merely reducing travel costs through a basic telepresence system.
Beyond the obvious savings
To benefit effectively from the full value of collaboration technologies, businesses, as always, must take a step back to review and align their business objectives with their technology goals. If this is achieved in the first instance, a collaboration solution will offer significant efficiency and business agility benefits beyond the obvious savings in carrier and toll charges. Broadly speaking, these include:
- Improved efficiencies by integrating video collaboration into business processes (e.g. interviews, training, development, project and supply chain management)
- Better employee satisfaction with consistent technical support across time zones and continents through a common user friendly interface and one click dialing and conferencing capabilities
- Extended communications with those at the edge of the collaboration infrastructure, such as mobile workforce staff and key suppliers
- The ability to introduce communications-enabled business processes (CEBPs) and response rapidly to critical business issues
Those that have already implemented telepresence solutions need not retreat to square one to enjoy the extended benefits of a collaboration solution. These can be extended to integrate real-time collaboration into a company's existing business processes and across all geographically dispersed business divisions.
By combining collaboration with shared services in the cloud, companies can expect to significantly reduce the costs invested in collaboration, whilst enjoying the benefits of shared resources and support.
With these solutions it is important to keep in mind the increased need for managed interoperability across a broad range of non-telepresence endpoints such as low definition, desktop and mobile video. The bandwidth upgrade to the corporate WAN and Internet access will need to be calculated to support these endpoints and the business must also ensure that the technology is scalable and flexible enough to support developments in unified communications technologies.
It is also worth considering the long term benefits of implementing a multi-tenanted cloud-based collaboration solution that is fully managed and well integrated into a service provider's network. In addition to decreasing the capital investment of building the collaboration solution, this will offer increased economies of scale and reduced operational costs, alongside guaranteed availability and end-to-end service level agreements (SLAs), rather than having to integrate piecemeal solutions from multiple IT partners and vendors.
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