Mobility Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Roadwarriors

Posted by Shawn Guenther, Vice President of Product Management & Development

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November 6, 2014; 8:45 AM

Episode_VIIn my last two blogs, I’ve been building a case that mobility is changing the face of unified communications. I’ve covered the “what” and the “how,” but the case that remains to be made is “why” and for that we need to expand our examination of those who use unified communications.

First let’s establish a basic definition of unified communications: the combining of multiple types of primary communication into a single user experience. This can include email, voice mail, chat, screen sharing and audio conferencing. Users sitting at a desk might be slightly inconvenienced by having to manage multiple interfaces to get to these services and, in fact, this inconvenience is a large driving force behind the initial development in UC years ago. But the real business problem UC solves is for those employees not sitting at a desk or, for that matter, those not even in the building.

These employees need access to the same information internal staff have, but they have traditionally faced extreme challenges getting access. The advent of cell phones, and then smartphones brought the ability for voice, voice mail, chat, screen share and video to go with these road warriors anywhere and pushed new avenues in the form of social media. The challenge of the current generation of UC products is that they largely provide access only as long as the user has the right connectivity at the right time. UCStrategies blogger Art Rosenberg hits on this flaw:

”Legacy telephony,” Rosenberg says, “gave control for contact initiation to the caller, with little information about the callee’s availability or preferred alternatives for contact. The call recipient played a passive role and was subjected to disruptive calls unless their connection was already ‘busy’ with another call.”


This focus on the person initiating the communication offers little to the road warrior in terms of flexibility or advantage. For UC to really take hold UC needs to allow more control for the receiving party to set the timing and medium of contact – the ability to receive an incoming call and convert it to a text or to respond to a text message document request with a screen share session. This is typified in life today: respond to a tweet with an email or a Facebook message with a Vine recording. Duplicating this natural progression and regression is critical to the success of UC going forward.

Tightly coupled to this urgency is the need to increase the road warrior’s ability to rapidly identify the incoming party and categorize the communication as valuable or junk and choose whether to respond immediately, later, or never. Mr. Rosenberg likens this to caller ID screening we’ve become so accustomed to with voice calls or spam evaluation we use for email. Finding a way to make this identification simple, efficient and viable is a larger challenge. In my last two blog posts I’ve called for the end of unitaskers, and this is why: users who find the process cumbersome or short-sighted will quickly drop it.

As your social experiences grow more interoperable and faster you have to ask yourself if your UC solution is really working for you. The ultimate question is: do your business communications solutions make it easy for you to communicate?

Want to learn how ESI can make it easy for your business to communicate? Watch our short video to find out!

Topics: mobility