There has been an enormous amount of discussion in the past few years about Unified Communications and its business impact. However, companies are now moving beyond asking the question, “What is Unified Communications?” and instead are asking what Web 2.0 and social networking mean to their business.
The reality is that there is an inherent link between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking tools and Unified Communications.
What is changing in the workplace?
The effects of a troubled economic environment have led to reduced budgets and staff. Even as hints of recovery begin to emerge, the following trends are staying true:
- Unwillingness to return to previous employment levels
- Information workers are expected to increase their output
- Elimination of organizational layers
- Increasing expectations for staff to take on a variety of roles and responsibilities
This new way of doing business–and growing business–with less resources demands more productivity. As a result, the need for a collaborative working culture has increased. Combined with the general acceptance of social media tools in our everyday lives, it is clear that:
- Workers have become accustomed to instant access to friends and family thanks to text messages, Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging.
- Workers need to collaborate quickly and effectively. Today’s phones and email are not fast enough, with most communications resulting in a voicemail or replies hours later.
Bottom line: workers have a desire and need to use collaboration tools. If we look at Unified Communications as a tool to facilitate communication and explore its ability to add business value by driving collaboration, we can start to understand how social networking is an indication of the willingness to embrace Unified Communications and Collaboration.
Why is Web 2.0 relevant?
The question about whether people can use social networking tools to collaborate has been answered by the prolific growth of social network sites and the various tools that support and integrate with them. Workers already tweet feedback from trade shows and conferences, recruit new talent on LinkedIn, or interact with customers and prospects, publicize events and share product updates on Facebook and blogs.
Workers have realized that collaborative technology enriches communications and makes productivity sustainable. As businesses strive to boost productivity without returning to the staffing levels or increasing spending, Unified Communications becomes key to achieving those goals. The burden now is on solutions providers and vendors to help executives understand how to best leverage a Unified Communications platform in a way that meets their collaborative and productivity requirements.
Businesses are not going to back away from demands for increased productivity. By understanding the correlation between social networking and Unified Communications and Collaboration, companies can begin to embrace these solutions as an important part of today’s workplace.