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Unified communications, a lifeline in crisis and a lifestyle in the new normal

by Wanda Rich
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Heather Zhang, Country Business Leader for UK & Ireland, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

In the spring of 2020, when life as we knew it changed overnight, organisations from every sector had to adapt to unprecedented conditions while still ensuring business continuity. While some were already equipped to handle the demands of a distributed workforce, most were thrown into a landscape of which they had no experience in how to handle. Unable to access offices or meet colleagues and clients in-person, digital communication solutions became more mission-critical than ever before. Under such circumstances, Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) and Communications Platforms-as-a-Service (CPaaS) served as lifelines for a multitude of organisations, impacting the way in which we work to such an extent that – arguably – the world of work has been changed forever.

Heather Zhang, Country Business Leader for UK & Ireland, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

UCaaS for your success

It is clear the communication services intended for traditional ways of working are no longer fit for purpose in the new environment in which we find ourselves. Communications tools need to be adapted and reshaped to meet the requirements of a new landscape, where the office can be everywhere and anywhere. For this reason, the health crisis saw UCaaS platforms really come into their own, allowing organisations to employ a singular solution to address all of their communication requirements. By enabling organisations, business partners, and customers to be better connected through seamless call, messaging, file sharing and conferencing abilities, UCaaS allows employees across a range of industries to be effective and efficient from anywhere, regardless of their location, whether in the office, at home, or on the move. By harnessing the power of cloud-based solutions, businesses could enjoy full access to all the tools they needed to work successfully from anywhere. This was, of course, an asset which became vital during the health crisis, and which remains a huge advantage to businesses employing remote and hybrid working models in ‘the new normal’. 

CPaaS for customer satisfaction

A major concern for businesses when working remotely was maintaining a high level of customer service and satisfaction under such unusual circumstances. Here again, CPaaS presented a solution, providing an interoperable ecosystem across channels to make customers feel nurtured when they needed it most. Bridging communications between humans, objects and processes, the application of CPaaS ensured that when a customer reached a business, they were met with simple to understand information and help, and answers which were truly personalised and delivered in a way which suited them best. CPaaS enables businesses to customise communications to specific business needs, making it the ideal solution to employ across verticals as it can be easily tailored to vertical specific requirements. Overall, CPaaS opens up the possibility of faster, easier, and more secure digital engagement for businesses – not only during the health crisis, but beyond. 

Data security risk

Despite the many positive aspects of communications solutions, these tools can also carry a certain degree of risk. 2020 saw an explosion in the number of ransomware attacks due to weak off-site IT security, for example. And with organisations in the government and health sectors deploying these kinds of solutions, it’s not enough to simply have the right technology – companies need to ensure that their data is secure, and that privacy rules and regulations are respected. As business continues to shift to the cloud in our new work world, organisations must not lose sight of the importance of data sovereignty and security. While compliance and security have always been important, they have become increasingly so in this time where employees work in remote and distributed environments. Any company that has access to customer data must ensure it can protect and preserve that data, and that its communications tools provide the highest level of regulatory compliance with GDPR and relevant certification.

Investing for the future

Remote working was already on the rise long before the current situation arrived and most companies authorised some degree of homeworking, though it was far from the norm. The advantages of remote and hybrid working in terms of flexibility and productivity are such that remote working popularity is sure to increase, even as restrictions are lifted and offices open for business once again. Communication plays a mission-critical role in our new working environment, enabling people to perform incredible business operations, interact with colleagues, and reach suppliers and customers. If organisations wish to benefit from these new business models, it is vital they invest in reputable, secure, reliable communications tools which connect people, processes and things, and put efficient business at the heart of operations. The solutions which enabled businesses to survive in the midst of the health crisis are those which companies must now trust to future-proof their business and thrive in ‘the new normal’.