Merging unified communications with the cloud

The convenience of cloud data storage and the rise of Software-as-a-Service business models have lead several companies to shift their workload to the Web. Cloud services may not be complex enough to replace traditional unified communications solutions, but the technology can easily complement a company's existing UC technology with compatible cloud solutions. This strategy can help companies to get even more out of their investment in high-end unified communications technology.

Utilize UC-friendly apps
InformationWeek reports that Google Apps are easy to integrate with UC systems. The combination offers several advantages, including solutions for working with offices utilizing obsolete technology. For example, UC systems integrated with Google Apps can automatically digitize voice messages and faxes before delivering them straight to the user's mailbox. Google Apps integration also offers workflow solutions for employees, like the ability to automatically dial phone numbers directly from UC devices by simply clicking the number in Google Drive. Linking unified communications technology to a cloud-based app also creates opportunities for companies to connect to another firm's UC system with minimal compatibility issues.

Share best practices
New tools always require a learning curve before employees can utilize these resources effectively. Companies can expedite this process by charging employees to teach and educate themselves along the way. Suggesting that employees learn the new system through collaboration is a great way to build employee confidence and test the new system's ability to support collaboration. Assigning workers to create and update a GoogleDoc with best practices, for example, will naturally educate users on the collaborative potential of sharing projects over the cloud. InfoWorld notes that the best practices developed when integrating new technology can also be used to scale unified communications as the company grows. 

Invite employee feedback
No implementation process is without its hiccups. Companies can address problems that arise when integrating UC systems and cloud applications by listening to employee feedback. Managers can get a good feel for which elements of integration are helping or hindering workflow by reflecting on an employee's personal experience. Employee feedback also provides opportunities for companies to catch mistakes that occurred during implementation and resolve technical issues that hinder collaboration. It may turn out that integrating your unified communications system with cloud-based apps is not the right direction for your company. Paying close attention to the experiences of your employees will allow you to catch performance red flags as quickly as they appear. Responding quickly to worker frustrations with new technology will also foster trust between employees and management.