Can unified communications really be unified without a fully realized mobile strategy? In the age of the “anywhere worker,” the integration of mobile devices into all communication platforms is essential for developing any real sense of unity.

The continued development of mobile unified communications (UC) solutions is key to empowering today’s increasingly mobile workforce. A growing array of independent, disconnected devices, apps and services are making mobile work more disjointed than it ought to be.

For truly “unified” communications, users today are looking for the ability to integrate all means of communications and collaboration onto a common dashboard that can be accessed on any device. Some industry experts say we may finally reach that goal in 2017.

Mobile UC has been a tantalizing notion for several years. The idea is to integrate traditional telephony, messaging, voice, presence and other business applications with a mobile platform and tightly integrate the whole package with an organization’s communications and collaboration system. Market-leading UC platforms such as ShoreTel Connect feature robust mobile components, and nearly all UC vendors have developed mobile applications.

However, many mobile UC solutions have received lukewarm response in the marketplace. Part of the problem is that major smartphone manufacturers were initially reluctant to provide access to the native dialer function on their devices. As a result, the first generation of mobile UC solutions are “over the top” apps that must be installed on the device. Making a call requires dialing within the app instead of using the mobile phone’s native dialer. It can be a cumbersome user experience.

Change is on the horizon, however. Android opened up its dialer some time ago, and with its most recent iOS update, Apple is opening its personal assistant, Siri, to developers along with key APIs for the dialer and address book. That will allow calls on VoIP services to be placed through the iPhone’s address book with a single click.

These developments and the continued integration of enterprise-class business features on mobile devices are expected to drive an improved user experience for the next generation of mobile UC solutions. MarketsAndMarkets anticipates that the mobile UC market will grow at compound annual rate of 27.5 percent to reach a value of $17.38 billion by 2019.

ShoreTel’s mobility solution offers one of the top mobile UC experiences, giving both iOS and Android devices high-performance UC features such as video conferencing with room-based systems, peer-to-peer video, desktop sharing, CRM integration, instant messaging and presence. Mobile devices also get desk-phone functionality such as extension dialing, conference calling, company directory, hold and call transfer.

We have more ways to stay in touch than ever before, but it can be difficult to manage the proliferation of devices, apps and services. With all of these technologies working independently of one another, we’re left to juggle multiple phone numbers, email addresses, passwords and collaboration tools. ShoreTel is helping to resolve these issues with solutions that meet the communications and collaboration needs of an increasingly mobile workforce.

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