Unified Communication: In Cloud and Mobile Era

Vikalp Sahni, CTO,Goibibo

Collaboration and team-work have always been a key to success for any organization. Without these, it becomes hard to cut the chaos and forward think rationally.

If we go back, we would see that communication and organizational collaboration has disrupted setups multiple times and patterns pointing to these disruptions definitely attribute to

  1. Speed and ease of communication.
  2. Employee behavior in their non-professional life.

Organizational communication has been extremely close knit for smaller businesses, due to proximity and knowledge sharing within small set of individuals, where verbal dialogues would normally suffice. But as an organization grows and employee strength increases, proximity decreases and focused groups are created. Collaboration now implies crossing boundaries of physical presence and one on one communication. Historically we have seen introduction of tools of communication enhancing productivity from PBX to IVR setups and then emails and video-conferencing, making collaboration within the organization speedier and frictionless.

An absolutely rich and transparent set of available tools for unified communication is an oxygen for the healthy functioning of an organization. These tools have been pioneered and worked upon by various enterprise software providers time and again from pure email / voice providers, to IBM, Microsoft coming up with their suite of products which aimed at improving productivity.

In this era of cloud ( SAAS ) and mobile dominance, organizational communication is taking a disruptive route to further speed up communication, by making it frictionless and mimicking employees’ general behavior by looking beyond traditional route of email, chat and alerting engines to more consolidated collaborative cloud based setups like Slack / Flowdock / Hipchat / Exo platform etc. These tools not only cut off the nuances and chaos associated with traditional communication setups, but also bring in an absolute real-time and transparent perspective to organizational processes. Furthermore being thought ground up from an employee’s mobility and any-where work perspective, they leverage strength of personal devices to make communications effective.

In an organization, communication doesn’t happen only between humans, but infrastructure alerts like a machine being overloaded to status on sales and customer queries, forms an integral part of of communications. A capability of integration with these tools from Jira, NewRelic to various CI, marketing and HR tools not only allows easy access to information, but completely eliminates the implementation hassles and provides a transparent view any subscriber of such information.

Cloud (SAAS) not only disrupted textual communication, but is also changing the way office voice and video communication happens, by leveraging commodity desktops and mobile cams to share screens and do voice. On those lines, Zoom / Skype / Aircall have build robust tools to not only enable faster and easier communication but also save costs. These tools empowered with extremely powerful search capabilities around communication, people and systems are now acting as a repository of knowledge too. We can now go back in time to see why certain action was performed and between whom. Also tools like on-cloud wiki are now making onboarding resources, human as well as machine, easy. We now have places to look for a new installation of a software or for an employee to get his development setup up and working.

These tools are being thought of ground up to not only deliver communication but also drive massive automation over instant messaging and voice, say a meeting automatically scheduled between marketing and engineering teams to study impact of a release pushed to production. These simple configurable automations remove the hassle of follow-ups and bring in speed, thus diminishing the need of constant communication and hence resulting in a rise in productivity.

Though we talked about how Instant Messaging services and Cloud based Video and Call services are disrupting the email and hardware device based setups, but if we go deeper, communication in an organization largely is an action of information/requirement gathering around specific tasks. If these actions themselves become communication in the form of a close collaborative ecosystem, we would make then be communicating while actioning and iterating. This is where tools like Quip, Google Docs, MS SharePoint provide ability to collaborate among teams while communicating real time over any medium. These strong tools and products enhanced agility and keep teams less busy communicating and more busy collaborating.

I strongly see patterns arriving where these specific SAAS tools would take the paradigm of intra-organization communication to next level by integrating with single sign on capabilities on-premise or over the cloud in the form of one login, Okta, etc. Ensuring best in class security and governance over data required for large data intensive enterprises.

A unified communication setup, helping organizations create structure, reduce chaos with improved speed of execution, would drive us to embrace these newer SAAS based solutions. And as these services are being deeply integrated with each other, it would provide the means essential to scale up extremely easily in a fast paced growth environment. A strong team work and transparent processes has no alternative and essential ingredient for success.