For technology to have real business value, it must address a tangible problem. When it comes to Unified Communications and Collaboration – UC&C – goal number one is enabling more effective collaboration. A key reason this milestone is increasingly hard to achieve is that communications technologies have not kept pace with how the workplace is changing.

This post is the first in a four-part series that addresses key topics covered in, “Best Practices for UC&C Productivity”, a whitepaper to be released on October 5 (click here for advanced copy). Our goal in creating this paper is to take a closer look at common UC&C technology and usage challenges, as well as best practices to gain the maximum benefits UC&C has to offer.

A pre-requisite for any successful implementation is to conduct a thorough assessment of all stakeholders, existing technology, infrastructure, network, and physical layout. Many IT projects fail due to a disconnect between what IT executives thought end-users needed, and what the users actually needed. Failing to address user and line of business requirements, challenges and goals during the initial planning, coupled with common pitfalls like lack of bandwidth, inadequate support mechanisms and training, can sink a deployment.

Many businesses suffer from fragmented, decentralized organizational structures, and lack the tools to allow a disparate workforce to collaborate in real time. Legacy telephony and email can be effective for one-to-one communication needs, but they have limited utility for group projects, especially when your employees are scattered or in mobile settings. Legacy video conferencing systems are primarily room-based, require advance reservations, and have interoperability constraints.

The next-generation of enterprise video systems overcomes all of these limitations. Collaboration takes on a strategic role for the business, and the need to address the fragmentation dilemma becomes more apparent.

With increased enterprise adoption of mobile devices, which boast powerful touch-based UIs, rich collaboration is no longer restricted to being in the office. In addition, the standards-based nature of IP video allows for on-demand access across a wide range of endpoints, making collaboration as easy and spontaneous as a phone call.

By understanding the needs of your stakeholders and surveying the productivity tools they currently use that impedes their agility, it should be evident how disparate, legacy technology is limiting business performance.

That’s the main message for this post, as the problem set must be defined in order for the UC&C value proposition to have resonance. Having done that, I will continue this four-part series with a follow-up article that looks at specific considerations for productivity, mapping your UC platform to use cases, and defining the right type of collaboration solution for your business.

* I will be discussing this subject matter next month at ITEXPO 2015 in Anaheim. Two sessions on October 5 in which I will participate are: ‘Telepresence Options’ (1:00 PM); and ‘How to Make Your UC Investment Pay Off’ (3:00 PM).