Why Unified Communications Won’t Kill Email
Unified Communications Won’t Eliminate Email – But it Might Give Your Inbox a Break
According to IDC research, over 10 million more workers will join the U.S. mobile workforce by 2020. As businesses adapt to a more decentralized staff – and their growing need for greater real-time collaboration capabilities –the importance of a unified communications (UC) platform can’t be understated.
Instant messaging, video conferencing, document collaboration and other UC tools are becoming staples of this new workforce paradigm; and they’re helping teams avoid phone tag, endless email threads and extraneous in-person meetings. The growing popularity of UC tools and collaboration apps like Slack has led many to proclaim email is dying. But despite these predictions, UC isn’t completely supplanting email; if anything, it’s making our inboxes a little more bearable.
Here’s a look at how each of these tools fits into employees’ day-to-day:
While most businesses promote cross-team collaboration and strive for greater organizational unity, many have encountered challenges around timely and effective teamwork. In a federated environment, different departments and employees use their own communication tools, potentially isolating themselves from their colleagues. Unsurprisingly email – the universal standard – is forced to pick up the slack, leaving collaboration efforts without an agile avenue of communication.
Each communication tool offers unique advantages (instant messages are better suited for a quick question, while video and web conferencing offers a more productive environment for brainstorms and project kickoffs), making it crucial that teams have access to a variety of resources. An integrated UC platform offers the best of all worlds, granting employees the tools they need to collaborate smarter while allowing businesses to retain control over their environment.
Today, many businesses rely on an amalgam of one-off solutions from different vendors. Audio and video conferencing are often serviced by separate providers and may not integrate with the organization’s instant messaging platform or file sharing solutions.
While these tools help employees stay connected, they can also encourage fragmented communication if not managed properly. However, employee work habits already demonstrate the desire for a unified information repository.
Rather than leave information stranded across a handful of silos, most workers consolidate information via email. This inbox overload ultimately makes it that much harder to pull important project information or attachments at a moment’s notice. A true UC solution liberates employees from their inboxes and keeps shared information cohesive, rather than scattered across individual team members’ email folders.
UC systems can not only significantly reduce employee frustration with a seemingly endless stream of emails or unresponsive coworkers, but it also offers concrete productivity gains. With instant messaging apps, employees can see who’s online and available at any given point throughout the day, so a question that would’ve sat in their inbox for hours can be answered in real-time.
A web conferencing system with document collaboration functionality allows colleagues to edit files together in one block of time, rather than passing attachments back and forth for days. Each of these newer communication and collaboration tools let employees take back minutes, even hours, per day that were once devoted to message management.
Rather than turn to email for every workday inquiry, announcement or brainstorm, the traditional inbox can be reserved for longer messages and less time-sensitive information.
Email has proven its worth as the foundation of modern office communication, but it can’t do everything on its own. While it will remain the backbone of the office, the breadth of modern UC tools can lighten the burden that has historically fallen to Gmail and Outlook. By moving to a UC solution, businesses can ensure their employees always have the right tool for the job and allow workers to finally make peace with their inboxes.