Bringing together business applications and collaboration and communications tools under one roof.

Unified communications (UC) platforms appear to have everything your end users need to realize the promise of real-time communications in order to work collectively on projects with coworkers inside their offices and external colleagues outside of it.

Why then have fewer than 25 percent of organizations fully deployed UC platforms? Why can an even smaller fraction claim their end-user communities have fully adopted them?

The answer isn’t as surprising as you think: UC apps don’t really mesh with the way today’s workers do their jobs.

Many employees spend a majority of their time inside a handful of applications they use on a daily basis. However, they are forced to leave those environments in order to communicate with their colleagues.

This is precisely why modern UC platforms are limiting. Employees don’t want to use separate applications for other tasks. They want comprehensive platforms that provide access to everything they need to do their jobs from one central location.

So rather than using their UC tools, employees use email as their default mode of communication. As a result, on most users’ desktops, UC clients are never or seldom used. For example, a recent survey revealed 71% of workers use, at most, half of their UC tools, while 38% of them don’t use their UC tools at all.

What’s more, it seems UC platforms and services don’t really help employees engage colleagues beyond organizational boundaries without IT’s constant intervention.

Broadening the use of real-time communications and collaboration applications requires more than simply installing them on desktops or mobile devices and hoping employees use them.

These applications need to bring people, teams (both external and internal) and business applications together for seamless real-time communications and collaboration—all through an open platform that doesn’t require constant IT intervention to establish point-to-point UC federation and then maintain it.

This idea becomes even more critical on mobile devices. We all know how much more difficult it is to leave one software environment to work on a separate application when we’re on a mobile device.

Let’s imagine a sales manager is in a customer relationship management (CRM) system. He’s checking the record of an important customer when he sees something that prompts him to reach out to his contact.

Assuming his IT department maintains active UC federations with all his customers—a tall order in and of itself—he would need to leave the CRM application, bring up his UC client to see if his contact is online, copy and paste the information from his CRM, and send it as an instant message. If not, he would use email to send his message and wait for a reply.

As most end users have discovered, this is an inefficient process. So in most or all cases, they default to email, which was never designed as collaboration tool.

But what if all customer information could be accessed through a single communications and collaboration application? End users could then see relevant information right within their collaboration app. In the case of the sales manager, he could pull the account information into a chat session, initiate a chat session, even invite the named account manager into the chat session and escalate it to a conference call—all with a single click.

To be successful in today’s business environment, mobile communications and collaboration applications need these capabilities.

Almost all apps are moving to mobile platforms. Switching between different apps and windows on a PC is a hassle, but it’s something we’ve certainly become accustomed to. Toggling between apps on mobile phones, however, can make even the simplest process so cumbersome that workers just won’t do it.

That’s why we say things like, “I’ll take care of it when I’m back in the office.” Integrating business applications into communications and collaboration applications can go a long way to ensuring you don’t hear your colleagues say that anymore.