Make those minutes count

Create Superior Collaboration Without Overlap and Overspending

Collaboration tools are necessary for optimizing communications, but enterprises are using overlapping technologies.Collaboration tools are a necessity in today’s market, where instant responses are expected and a growing remote workforce demands virtual meetings and file-sharing capabilities. Across many enterprises, collaboration is occurring, but often without a cohesive strategy for managing or optimizing these tools. There’s a lot of overlap and overspending happening with communications, where multiple apps are chosen for various collaborative features.

It’s important to streamline every area of IT in order to remain competitive and offer a superior end-user experience, and collaboration tools may be a good place to start. Take a look at four steps you can take to begin the process:

Start with a collaboration technology assessment: An audit will allow you to get a full picture of the tools that are being used and what they are being used to do. Look at data, but also allow for open conversation where employees can easily divulge the tools they’ve been using. This will help you identify shadow IT and determine how to prevent its use in the future. Identify areas where there is overlap in the features provided by the various applications.

Consolidate the solutions: The average enterprise shuffles between four collaboration tools to piece together a good solution for their teams’ needs. Each of the tools may not be used to its full potential, but the enterprise is still paying the subscription fee. Keep in mind, too, that the total cost of ownership goes beyond subscriptions, with deployment costs, minute-based fees, and support contracts also contributing to the total.

Build a cohesive collaboration solution: Applications exist that will solve your challenges through a single tool. There are three basic areas you should evaluate when determining which collaboration solution to invest in:

  • Interoperability: The solution you choose should work well with the other systems you regularly access, and should make it easy for your vendors and other business partners to engage with it.
  • Reliability: Don’t underestimate your need for quality video or how much disruption in your business processes can cost your company. Invest in a provider that offers reliability.
  • Security: Make sure all data in motion is encrypted and be sure all your solutions are safe within your enterprise’s firewall.

Get key stakeholders involved: Consolidating your collaboration tools requires the buy-in of key managers and others that can help “sell” your new solution. Involve others in evaluating application options and in other phases of the process. Once you’ve decided, enlist these leaders to help build positive energy about the change throughout the company.

With today’s global communications systems, your employees no longer have to be in the same room to work together effectively. Modern networks allow individuals around the world to collaborate in real-time through voice, video, and web-conferencing. T2 has the tools to allow you to meet, chat, share, and collaborate from anywhere, on any device. Contact us for more information.

How 5G Broadband Will Improve Unified Communications

Wireless, Unified CommunicationsThe unified communications experience could significantly improve with the advent of 5G wireless broadband infrastructure, expected to hit the market in 2020. There’s excitement across the industry, with many anticipating that faster speeds and expanded coverage could be just the beginning. 5G may also create a launching point for new technologies.

Among unified communications subscribers, the expected launch of 5G will add significant improvements for mobile users:

Better voice and video: Unified communications gives office dwellers a significant improvement in voice quality over traditional private branch exchange (PBX) systems, but mobile employees have not enjoyed that same advantage. With the implementation of 5G wireless broadband, however, mobile users will appreciate better voice and video quality for improved communications.

Robust mobile experience: While much of the workforce is on the move and doing business anytime and from anywhere, the experience can be a bit inconsistent. Most companies push through and don’t let this affect whether they are encouraging employees to work in a mobile setting.

Once 5G is in place, mobile broadband will be on more equal footing with unified communications in the office. Connections will be consistent and reliable, eliminating drops in coverage. The connection will also be richer, integrating unified communications with key business applications available through the cloud. While some businesses already make mobile productivity a focus of their workforce environment, the launch of 5G will expand this focus and introduce it in companies that have needed a more reliable and rich mobile experience.

Connection with artificial intelligence (AI): The use of 5G broadband wireless will support unified communications as it integrates AI technology. Mobile employees will be able to set up AI support for routine customer questions. The introduction of 5G will also integrate with digital assistants that will be able to schedule appointments and set up reminders with relevant information.

The connection with 5G is anticipated to feature data-transfer rates from 10 to 20 gigabytes per second, which should result in 10 to 100 times faster connections than those experienced with 4G. This will provide the infrastructure to create game-changing innovations like an AI assistant that can assess a problem, perform a full analysis, then report back to a mobile employee through a video connection or quick chat.

Want to know more about the benefits expected with the launch of 5G wireless broadband connection? Talk with our consultants at T2, where we can not only discuss 5G, but also help you make the most of your current unified communications system.

How to Determine if Cloud or On-site Video Conferencing Is Ideal

Video ConferencingPrior to purchasing video conferencing services, businesses should consider the differences between cloud and on-premises services to determine which type of service is ideal for them. As video conferencing continues to evolve and become increasingly streamlined over time, costs have decreased and these services have become more accessible to the average user.

There are two main ways for businesses to utilize video conferencing. The first is to keep video conferencing operations on-site with everything located within the workspace, while the second is to outsource it to a third party provider that deploys it as Software as a Service (SaaS) via cloud storage.

What Is Included in Video Conferencing Solutions?

Both cloud-based and on-site video conferencing services include many of the same components, but there are some differences between their capabilities.

  • Recording and Streaming – Both on-premises and cloud-based video conference calls can record and stream conferences, but while on-site services keep data within their own network, cloud services store data on third-party servers. Service level agreements (SLAs) can help businesses determine how data is stored and in what locations. Business owners also need to consider the total cost of ownership as it pertains to data storage and network traffic.
  • Multipoint Conferencing/Bridging – The great advantage of multipoint conferencing, or bridging, is the ability to include a large number of sites on a single call. The number of available users will vary from vendor to vendor, but typical on-site multipoint conferencing will allow anywhere from 12 to 120 users on one call, while cloud services often allow 25 to 50 users, with little to no call limits for the latter.
  • Firewall Configuration – One of the limitations of on-premises video conferencing is the need to setup firewalls prior to making calls beyond the business’s network. Configuring a firewall can be complex, requiring users to take multiple factors into account. Cloud-based services can help companies avoid this issue entirely, allowing them to connect nearly anywhere with internet connectivity.
  • Centralized Network Management – Another advantage of cloud-based services is streamlined network management, with the ability to update software and address books and manage problems with the network through an automated process.

When On-Site Video Conferencing Is Appropriate

On-premises video conferencing was a much more popular choice for organizations when it was the only method available. Today, companies utilizing this type of conferencing the most are large organizations that place security as a top priority, such as government agencies or businesses that handle large amounts of confidential client information.

However, on-site video conferencing also requires a lot of resources that many businesses simply don’t have, particularly smaller companies with minimally staffed IT departments. Unless the business has the ability to handle all of the details surrounding on-premises conferencing, this method isn’t ideal.
When to Choose Cloud-Based Video Conferencing

Cloud technology is constantly evolving, and cloud-based services are becoming less expensive over time. They are highly scalable to meet the needs of small to large businesses, with fixed costs available to maximize predictability of expenses. These services also include plenty of automation to reduce the need for a large and consistently attentive IT team.

When choosing between on-site and cloud-based video conferencing services, businesses should consider their unique requirements.