Tailoring UC To The Elusive Mobile Worker

Today's mobile workers have unique technology requirements that enterprises must consider in their unified communications deployments.

Joseph Harsch

March 5, 2015

4 Min Read
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Time is the promise of mobility, and by extension the promise of unified communications. Historically, mobile involved enterprises equipping employees with  products and technologies to improve efficiency and productivity. That meant smartphones, remote connectivity and the ability to access information while away from the office.

But we are well past the days of a single mobile worker use case, and for that reason setting a universal definition of who a mobile worker is -- and what his or her communications needs are -- has become far more complex. In this blog post, I'll examine four key mobile worker use cases, and the unique technology requirements businesses should consider when adopting and deploying UC products and services to the mobile workforce.  

The work-from-home employee  

With a broadband connection, the home-based employee -- such as an insurance billing specialist for a doctor’s office or even large hospital --  has access to all the tools they would expect in the office.  When considering UC features most valuable to this type of mobile worker, the enterprise must recognize this individual is stationary (as opposed to in motion), and likely to be using a laptop/PC. Phone usage is more complex; it could be an IP phone, cordless phone, smartphone or desktop client.

As a result, required UC features include instant messaging and presence (so that colleagues can determine in real time if the work from home employee is available), desktop and file sharing, and video calling and conferencing. Advanced UC-enabled conferencing capabilities are particularly valuable to the work-at-home employee as they can eliminate the need to repeatedly create and share cumbersome bridge numbers and pass codes. 

The nomad

While the specific role of a “nomad” mobile worker varies depending on the industry and business size, the needs of these workers are one and the same: reliable communications and collaboration no matter the location or how much knowledge the employee has on which location he or she will be next. 

For a large pharmaceutical firm, this worker might be the manager traveling from office to office to train new sales teams; for a small restaurant franchise, it's the regional VP checking in on multiple locations throughout the day. Where I live, our bank has five offices that are 15 to 20 minutes away from each other. The president of the bank has an office in two of the locations, and there's one manager for all five offices.  In this case, everyone comes to work in the bank, but they are not always in the same location each day.

For the nomad, smartphone and tablet-based unified communications capabilities are critical. This can include automatic call routing to his/her smartphone, mobile video conferencing, as well as desktop and file sharing.

Due to the nomad’s unpredictable schedule, UC products that support “on the fly” conferencing and collaboration (i.e., solutions that can be rapidly propped up and do not require downloads, plug-ins or dedicated conference bridge numbers) ensure this type of mobile worker can easily reach and be reached by colleagues and customers.

The road warrior

Sales professionals are on the road relentlessly, and their location on any given day can include multiple customer locations, a hotel room, the airport, and everywhere in between. For these mobile workers, smartphones and tablet devices are their lifeblood.

The sales rep is often a “lone wolf,” less dependent on frequent communication with colleagues, but very much reliant on presentation-based UC services. Sales reps must be able to seamlessly share information via PowerPoint, video and multimedia,  and the quality of UC sharing must be as impressive on a smartphone as it is on a laptop.  At the same time, if the sales rep requires last-minute content from the corporate office, UC capabilities must support real-time content sharing.

The field service technician

Whether it's technicians called to monitor and inspect servers at a data center farm or more traditional building IT and electrical support technicians, real-time unified communications are key to schedule efficiency and customer satisfaction.  Technicians will often call/message to confirm that they’re on the way (or late), and for that reason, UC services that, for example, show an outbound call coming from a corporate office number instead of a personal cell phone are highly valuable.

Technicians also benefit from advanced messaging capabilities that intelligently route the right form of communication (phone, text, email) based on the technician’s status and location.

Finally, enterprises are just now scratching the surface in utilizing WebRTC for real-time, browser-based voice and video calling capabilities such as click-to-call. Field technicians may increasingly benefit from WebRTC to provide customers or other team members with access to real-time product installation and repair videos.

Whether a business wants to support more work-from-home employees, or empower field personal to connect and collaborate, UC technologies must be tailored to both the needs of the business and the user.  

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