Most enterprises are probably familiar with bring your own device, the practice of employees supplying their own hardware, typically smartphones and tablets, to supplement or replace traditional office PCs. Recently, the BYOD buzzword has given way to discussion of "shadow IT," a similar phenomenon that nevertheless is usually cast in a more negative light. Whereas BYOD is regularly construed as a potential boon to productivity, shadow IT is framed a threat to the IT department's control, especially as organizations increasingly migrate from on-premises to cloud-based software.
Unified communications' place as BYOD, shadow IT come to the fore
Unified communications solutions are in a unique position as BYOD and shadow IT infiltrate the enterprise:
- UC may be hosted on-premises or provided through cloud resources, making it both a traditional and cutting-edge technology, depending on the implementation.
- The widespread use of OTT voice, messaging and chat solutions – Apple, for instance, has pegged iMessage as the single most used iOS app – is changing how companies approach communications infrastructure. Circuit-switched telephony and email alone no longer suffice.
- With such consumerization all across the enterprise messaging, technologies such as Wi-Fi are being advanced to make voice calls and Internet access more seamless.
Overall, UC has so far benefited from the widespread shift of IT toward the cloud and mobile devices. In a 2014 report, Infonetics Research estimated that the voice-over-IP market alone reached $68 billion in 2013, up 8 percent from 2012. Revenues could rise another $20 billion by 2018.
UC and Wi-Fi-enabled VoIP
Employees are now accustomed to seamless connectivity and high-quality, feature-rich software on mobile devices. For example, apps such as Skype and LINE are much more versatile than standard SMS and voice dialers.
A big part of achieving a better use experience with enterprise UC is getting the installation right. Firms that handle high daily call volumes may choose to host UC on-premises for maximum reliability. If VoIP is a major part of the solution, it is important to ensure that is supported by sufficient bandwidth and Wi-Fi access points.
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