The way people communicate today, both in our personal lives and in a business setting, would be nearly unrecognizable to someone 25 years ago, when we relied heavily on land lines, faxes, and traditional postal mail to connect with each other. Our current methods of communication are continuing to shift and evolve, and are dramatically changing the way we work. People are becoming less tied to their desks and more flexible in how they go about their jobs, thanks, in part, to communication tools. This past year, we saw many organizations take big steps forward in terms of expanding their communication tool sets and enabling their employees to work more effectively and efficiently, a trend we will continue to see in 2017. Here are three shifts currently happening around communication: A change in ownership Methods of communication are changing hands. Previously, telco and facilities groups may have owned communications and telepresence, responsible for ensuring every desk had a working telephone and a network to connect it to or that meetings were properly arranged beforehand. Today, this entire area is shifting into an IT function as more and more communications are moving to the cloud and are putting the mobile first. User-focused platforms like Skype for Business Online, which enable users to communicate via text, voice and video, and Yammer fit under the umbrella of IT. The biggest shift with these technologies versus traditional on premises tools is that most of the IT department’s time isn’t devoted to managing the tools, it’s in educating users on features and functions. As such the role of the IT “doer” has now become the IT “enabler,” “advisor” or “educator.” A change in control As companies are undergoing digital transformation, they sometimes struggle to keep up with the transformations their employees are undergoing on the consumer side. As such, organizations are finding that employees are extremely up-to-date on communication technologies and often don’t hesitate to bring them into a work setting. This might mean that employees are texting each other on their smartphones, using apps to communicate with groups of colleagues, or installing a consumer tool and using it in a work environment, even though it may not have been vetted by IT. This can be a headache for IT departments wanting to keep track of every tool in use, but more than that it can be a risk for companies that don’t have a good handle on where and how their data is being shared. In an effort to maintain security, while leveraging the tech-savviness of workforces, companies are now realizing the importance of providing modern communication options for employees. A change in approach To successfully introduce, roll out, and make use of communications tools, it’s important to build an implementation strategy. Many companies try to shoehorn new tools into legacy equipment and end up with an unusable environment. As organizations look to expand their communications capabilities in the new year, I recommend a change in approach: pick a solution, build a homogenous solution around it, and build out budgets to replace aging equipment. Don’t expect a rip-and-replace situation to happen overnight. Moving from the per-minute model of traditional conferencing providers to an “all you can eat” model doesn’t just replace audio conferencing, it also gives users the advantage of video, content and messaging capabilities, tackling several pieces of the communications puzzle with one solution. At New Signature, we work closely to help customers identify what communications tools make the most sense for their environment, find where they fit into the organization, and then help them deal with the fire hose of features these products sometimes release. We’re able to build a roadmap and provide comprehensive assistance with change management and adoption as the products roll out. If your company is ready to take the next step in terms of extending your unified communications capabilities, get in touch with our experts and we’ll help you along your UC journey.