Manufacturing companies face a number of challenges every day, many of which pertain to the way they collaborate and communicate. Unified communications (UC) solutions have become a rising player for addressing these varying challenges and for bringing about more positive outcomes.
UC is praised for its ability to bring measurable, quantifiable cost savings, while at the same time being able to improve workforce efficiency and productivity; increase employee production and innovation; improve overall business processes; increase customer satisfaction; and provide more responsive service, among many other things.
Let’s take a look at some of the top challenges faced during the average day within a manufacturing department and the top benefits afforded by unified communications.
Challenge #1: Balancing a Globally Distributed Workforce
Currently, the majority of manufacturers boast global, virtual workforces. This type of workforce is no longer an option, but the de facto standard today. This includes mobile workers and employees working across multiple time zones, through holiday schedules and those who are extensively traveling. With so much going on, it can be difficult to facilitate meaningful or truly productive interactions between employees, customers and partners.
The UC Solution: Mobility and Social Media
Mobility: Unified communications provides support for all of the above types of employees. And with IDC estimating that by 2015, more people will be using their mobile devices to access the Web than a standard wireless computer, this is surely welcome news. Even more, ABI Research estimates that by the end of this year, there will be 1.4 billion smartphones in use and that there will be two billion people using smartphones by 2015.
This means that there’s going to be quite an increase in smartphone adoption in 2014, but thankfully, unified communications brings all of the time-saving features and functionalities that employees have come to know and love to mobile workers’ smart devices, from mobile phones to tablets to everything in-between (Believe it or not, there are now devices that fall into that ‘in-between’ category). Including video conferencing, IM, presence, document sharing and more, UC offers these employees a cost-effective way to directly connect to customers, employees, partners and suppliers.
Social Media: Research from the Aberdeen Group shows that 70 percent of businesses will use social media by mid-2014, particularly for customer service. Additionally, 90 percent of businesses report value from their investment in social technologies, according to a survey commissioned by McKinsey and Co. Social media helps optimally connect globally distributed workforces, delivering answers in real or near-real time via Web-based interfaces. It makes most sense to have your internal team communicate in a manner similar to how they would conduct themselves outside of the organization. UC enables manufacturing departments to be more adaptive and responsive to customers, employees, partners and regulators via this medium.
But what about other challenges being faced by manufacturing companies and teams today? There are plenty that have yet to be discussed in this series. For instance, when it comes time to making product development, production planning and packaging decisions, global team collaboration is a must, but in order to seamlessly collaborate on a global level, global access to collaboration tools must be permitted. Additionally, in today’s highly competitive global economy, companies must aggressively seek out and retain top performing workers, but how can cloud-based UC help companies do so?