Business today never truly stops. The combination of digital transformation initiatives, globalisation efforts and migration to cloud-based technologies has significantly affected the way we work and how we conduct business.
The pace of innovation has increased and employees and leadership now require, “available-anywhere” collaboration and productivity tools. IT leaders must help their organisations orchestrate collaboration transformation by leveraging new, cloud-based collaboration technologies.
The cloud challenges us in new ways
The transition to cloud collaboration requires IT departments to not only select a solution that meets evolving business and end-user needs, but also provide adequate support for the new platform. For true success, the solution must be effectively deployed and maintained — and the end-user community must be properly trained to use it.
When organisations try to rush through strategy and implementation, the results can be disastrous. For example, rushing the process could cause your architects to miss a key design decision, leave your operational staff without the training they need to properly support the solution or, even worse, disrupt and alienate your end users.
Any of these issues can lead to a failed attempt at collaboration transformation. This could leave your users feeling frustrated and drive them to find their own solutions, further feeding the shadow IT problem many businesses struggle to contain.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to achieve cloud collaboration the right way — securing the benefits while avoiding the pitfalls. We’ll also take a closer look at the advantages of the Cisco Webex platform and explore how managed collaboration services can help you successfully migrate to cloud collaboration.
Enable remote work by disabling legacy IT
Currently, over 63% of organisations leverage a remote workforce and yet, 57% of companies still lack remote work policies.1 The number of remote workers is only projected to increase in the years to come. Businesses that embrace cloud technologies now will be better able to serve remote employees in the future. However, it’s impossible to fully leverage the cloud if you’re still relying on legacy tools and applications.
Legacy collaboration toolsets were designed with the limited vision that employees could only collaborate within the perimeter of an office. Even in just the last decade, technology innovations have made the world a much more mobile place.
As the culture of mobility continues to grow, the “anytime, anywhere” collaboration movement will press the limits of legacy toolsets. If your organisation attempts to extend legacy IT beyond its original purpose, you risk slowing productivity and exposing security vulnerabilities. With innovations like 5G on the horizon, legacy collaboration solutions are simply not equipped to keep up.
In a recent article on the advance of 5G, Forbes Technology Council member, Bobby Beckman advised, “Organisations should start preparing by investing in collaboration tools that are mobile-friendly, accessible and easy to adopt, learn and use. Laying the groundwork toward integrating these tools now will ensure employees are adapting to them and ready to leverage their full potential when 5G becomes pervasive.”2
How to get more tactical with your toolsets
As collaboration has evolved over the years, most businesses have seen a number of toolsets organically emerge in their environments. This is because many IT leaders don’t have a complete view of all the tools users are leveraging.
There are the approved toolsets endorsed by the business and then there are toolsets introduced by users looking to fill gaps in functionality. This mixed bag of tactical and organic integrations ultimately results in a disconnected and inefficient workflow.
An effective cloud collaboration strategy should address any gaps users perceive with your collaboration experience. Start by taking an inventory of all the tools being used in your environment. The unauthorised, “shadow IT” toolsets should give you a good idea of what gaps users perceive in your collaboration experience. Use this knowledge to consolidate shadow IT tools and replace them with one unified tool that can deliver the same functionality.
Controlling your shadow IT and introducing the right toolsets should help eliminate inefficiencies in your collaboration strategy. When you match strategic design with an all-in-one collaboration platform — such as Cisco Webex, which encompasses voice, video, meetings and messaging — your end users will be empowered to collaborate more effectively while staying within business workflows.
The advantage of Cisco Webex
As a leader in Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) with 57% of the market share for Ethernet switches and 60% of the market share for enterprise routers, Cisco is one of the main players in the field of cloud collaboration.3 This vendor in particular is uniquely positioned to help organisations make a gradual transition to cloud collaboration via hybrid cloud.
Cisco has historically had a strong on-premises Unified Communications (UC) solution. It was named a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UC for 11 years running. In addition to its on-premises solutions, Cisco now offers a robust cloud collaboration solution that includes Webex Calling, Webex Meetings, Webex Teams and Webex Contact Center.
With its cloud-based architecture, the Cisco Webex platform is fully capable of delivering the mobile connectivity modern workers demand. It’s always-on, always-secure infrastructure enables collaboration anywhere, while maintaining the integrity and security of your data.
If you’re evaluating cloud collaboration solutions and are considering a hybrid cloud approach, Cisco Webex is certainly worth a look.
Keeping up with the pace of change
In an effort to match evolving business requirements, cloud platforms like Cisco Webex often release new features every month. They provide such a responsive experience that innovation is not only faster, but continuous. While continuous updates make it easier to meet evolving business objectives, keeping up with the pace of change can be difficult.
Many IT organisations are not equipped to maintain and support each new feature, nor drive adoption of new features within their end user communities. As a result, IT leaders often find themselves forced to bypass new features until they’re able to be properly supported. They defer realising the potential benefits of new features due to a lack of internal resources and expertise.
The only way to stay in stride with these rapid release cycles is to either increase headcount to manage updates internally or partner with a trusted advisor who can manage the changes for you. A Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help you stay ahead of each release so you can immediately roll out and support new features.
When to consider a managed service provider
Sometimes, increasing internal headcount for IT projects just isn’t feasible. Often, it can be hard to find reliable talent with the right skill sets and expertise for the job. The advantage of having an MSP is always having experts on hand without having to source them yourself. MSP services are also much easier to scale on demand when priorities shift or large projects emerge.
If your organisation is considering a move to cloud collaboration, I’d like to invite you to explore Insight’s managed collaboration services. Our cloud collaboration experts can help you select the right cloud platform for your needs, plan your migration strategy, execute a smooth transition and continue to support you with ongoing maintenance.
We also offer managed collaboration services specifically for Cisco Webex if Cisco is your preferred cloud provider. By integrating with your existing on-premises solution, we facilitate simpler and smoother hybrid cloud migrations. Based on your needs, our experts can embed current or new PSTN carrier service solutions to help you make the most of your existing and future IT investments.
Discover Insight’s Cisco Webex Enterprise 90 day free trial which allows organisations to support their workforce instantly to collaborate remotely