The Importance of Company-Wide UCC for Agile Operations

WAVE OnCloud Series, Part 2

In last week’s post, we looked at how Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) tools like WAVE OnCloud by Motorola help improve employee safety in a carpeted vs concrete ecosystem.  In this post, we look at how implementing Unified Communication and Collaboration using two-way radio and office devices enable a more agile enterprise in responding to priority situations and helping with everyday collaboration.

Enterprise businesses are latching on to the terms “agile” and “lean” in the interest of constructing more resilient, flexible business operations. The cumulative impact has been the gradual construction of the “digital workplace.” Yet, there’s a glaring hole in what otherwise seems like a good idea: the digital workplace has now been rolled out in what Motorola refers to as the “carpeted”, or office sectors of the enterprise. For “concrete” sectors like warehouses or the production floor, the digital workplace options are absent. The reason for this disparity is that traditional Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) tools have only been designed for desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. But, our landscape and needs have modernized and so must our tools.

 

Different Workflows, Different Communications

Corporate Vice President for Motorola Solutions John Kedzierski summed up the situation best with the following example:

“The operator in the paint-spray booth at a manufacturing facility is not going to use Google Hangouts on a laptop to notify her supply team that she is out of paint. She will use a push-to-talk radio to say ‘I’m out of paint at Sprayer 4.'”

Kedzierski explained that employees in industrial environments face a very different set of challenges than office workers, and therefore require different communication methods when talking within those environments. Namely, they need something rugged, reliable and instantaneous, and PTT-enabled two-way radios hit all of these marks. Additionally, the networks they leverage tend to be more resilient, and the handheld units are designed to convey crystal-clear audio even in loud settings, with nothing more than the push of a button.

Thus, stripping away push-to-talk radio isn’t a viable option for “concrete” workers. At the same time, desktops, laptops and smartphones in the business office can’t be swapped out for two-way radios.

Voice Communication: The Original Collaboration Tool

From an operation standpoint, though, UCC silos hold back the digital transformation that’s needed to optimize employee agility for the sake of responding to disruptions. While it’s true that automation and the Industrial Internet of Things are changing concrete business operations as we know them, the pecking order of any workflow is still “people, process, technology.” The technology serves the process, and the process should make it easier for people to do their jobs safely and efficiently.

The problem is that as we’ve become more reliant on technology, a disruption to our digital infrastructure makes us more sluggish to engage employees. Consider the example of a data center where technicians and facility managers frequently deal with hazards such as overheating, electrical shorts, cyberattacks, equipment failures and other disruptions that directly affect business operations.

Data center disruptions have a financial impact, according to the Ponemon Institute, of nearly $9,000 per minute. Any disruption to data flow is costly for both the data center, and for users who rely on accessing information quickly and reliably. But when data center function is interrupted, fast-paced UCC between the boots on the ground and the office park becomes even more essential.

Let’s look at the barriers to facilitating this communication.  Data centers have thick, concrete walls that improve insulation, but also hinder RF signal going in or out. Cellular boosters/amplifiers can be installed to boost signals inside; however, it is rarely cost effective due to the relatively low headcount of employees who operate a data center.  Many facilities get around this problem by using two-way radio systems.  But again, that doesn’t address the bigger problem, which is that two-way radio is used in the data center and cellular communication in business headquarters.

By having both reliable two-way radio and cellular communication, the idea of facilitating immediate back-and-forth engagement between “carpeted” and “concrete” business factions becomes more tenable. This is crucial for quickly assessing incidents such as data breaches or outages, as well as responding to those incidents collaboratively and, hopefully, getting vital operations back on track quickly.

Similarly, there’s a high cost of disruption on the manufacturing floor, in supplier warehouses, to delivery trucks, and so on. While enterprises have heavily focused on making their digital workflows agile, in the process some have forgotten to ask themselves how agile and reliable their enterprise-wide, human-to-human communication infrastructure really is. If enterprise information systems are disrupted, there must be streamlined communication between the “carpeted” and “concrete” operations.

The silver lining is that the underlying infrastructure for enterprise-wide UCC already exists. On the “carpeted” side, enterprises can leverage cellular, and on the “concrete” side, they can leverage PTT radio.  The two can be different without being disparate. Here’s how:

Understanding the WAVE On Cloud Model

Communication Platform as-a-Service, or CPaaS, has emerged to address this very problem. Unlike other forms of digital workplace advancement, CPaaS doesn’t require any new infrastructure.

Motorola Solutions’ WAVE On Cloud solution is a leading example of CPaaS. The solution is a cloud-based, Push to Talk (PTT) application that works with any Wi-Fi or cellular-connected device, but also with MOTOTRBO radios. As a result, UCC between the carpeted and concrete components of the enterprise is not only integrated, but also resilient and redundant.

For priority engagements, such as dealing with data center downtime, WAVE acts a UCC lifeline, but it’s equally useful for creating more direct lines of communication to facilitate agile processes.

The traditional enterprise has a very rigidly outlined protocol for communicating through the lines of business. And while this hierarchy is in place to maintain order, in some cases it can become needlessly bureaucratic. For instance, if a warehouse manager knows that a supplier shipment is going to be late, they may as well have a direct line of communication to the various employees who will be directly affected by this. If customer service and supply chain managers are directly looped into these discussions, they can collaborate to prescribe contingency plans much faster.

The fully digital workplace and integrated agile enterprise are not pie in the sky dreams. But before they can become a reality, UCC must grow up. Day Wireless Systems, a leading and trusted name in communication and collaboration for more than four decades, is ready to help facilitate that growth.

Contact us today to learn more.