Collaboration, mobility and cloud have been high-priority topics on the IT agenda for a few years now. Until recently, however, most small and midsized businesses (SMBs) tended to view them as distinct technologies to be pursued through separate initiatives.

That is no longer the case. SMBs and midmarket organizations increasingly view them as integrated components of an ongoing shift in operations known as the “digital transformation.” This transformation can be generally defined as the use of technology to dramatically accelerate business activities.

The unified view of these key technologies is reinforced in a recent study by IT analyst firm Techaisle. In the 2017 version of its annual report, SMB and Midmarket Top 10 IT Priorities, IT Challenges and Business Issues, Techaisle notes that supporting digital transformation with collaboration, cloud and mobility has become an IT priority for SMBs.

The report notes that SMBs and midmarket businesses began exploring transformation in 2016 but suffered from a lack of direction, expertise and investment. Techaisle says, however, that in 2017 senior management will realize that “in a hyper-competitive world digitalization will become a differentiator.”

There is no question that cloud, mobile and collaboration are changing both the way we work and the workplace itself. Data, services and applications can now be delivered almost anywhere on the planet via a growing array of devices. A tighter integration of these technologies will bring new opportunities for innovation, process improvement and customer engagement.

For many organizations, unified communications (UC) solutions provide the logical platform for beginning this transformation. In addition to uniting voice, video and text communication tools, flexible UC platforms such as ShoreTel Connect also enable broader integration with key business applications.

By merging organizational communications into core business processes, ShoreTel Connect helps to increase employee productivity, shorten response times, encourage collaboration and improve customer satisfaction. The result is a more efficient and profitable enterprise, increasing the return on investment of both the communications platform and the customer’s existing business applications.

A good example of communication-enabled business processes is the integration of customer relationship management systems with UC to improve recordkeeping, data entry and call handling. UC has also been effectively integrated with office productivity suites so that users don’t have to break up their workflow by toggling between services as they perform regular tasks.

The key is that solutions such as ShoreTel Connect enable workers to perform essential tasks from any location and a variety of devices. Mobility is, in fact, the defining characteristic of the modern workforce. A Global Workplace Analytics report finds that the majority of Fortune 1000 employees are already working more than half the day away from their desks, and the trend will only accelerate as tech-savvy Millennials become an ever-larger segment of the global workforce.

Mobile, cloud and collaborative technologies are driving digital transformation and enabling new levels of agility and innovation. To keep pace with these changes, business leaders around the world are rethinking their organizational structure. UC is emerging as a powerful tool for enabling a mobile workforce to become more efficient, engaged and customer-focused.

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