Unified Communications (UC) today is defined as the number of technologies involved within a single platform, which offers user-friendly communications tools for corporate users. It is a fact that today, more than a billion employees are remote users. Unified Communications today offer a new communication experience. Virtual teams are organized through a collaboration platform, presence, voice and video capabilities, in order to increase their productivity and efficiency.
So why should we adopt UC? Unified Communications is not just the next trend. UC is not the new way of selling VoIP products. The vision behind UC is a lot bigger than selling, making money or present new technological achievements. What is the secret behind the success story? UC unintentionally, transfers incredible knowledge and skills to its users. Even if the employees do not have the skills the collaboration platform helps them to organize and prioritize their work. How? Because they can visually follow the time schedule and get the full picture of the remaining tasks related to the deadline. Organizing the progress within visual environments help people to have a better understanding of the goal and a better sense of time. It is not a coincidence that the adage “a picture is worth thousand words” refers to complex idea that can be easily understood by watching a single picture. This is why we humans visualize things. This is how we understand the magnetic field by drawing flux lines; Time is represented on the x-axis; Humans focus on organized actions and progress through visualization. But what is relationship of those discussed with Unified Communications and how does this related with Disaster Risk Reduction DRR?
The idea of Unified Communications is not a new concept. It is a primordial need. How many movies have you watched, in which the war (incident) will start after they light up the beacons? That is the signal that danger is close (beginning of the incident). So how does UC contribute to DRR? The Beacon on the movies is a part of UC system, which uses no technology, but utilizes the presence, a well-known characteristic of modern UC systems. Furthermore the visual effect of fire can be seen from miles away. Does it rings a bell? How many corporate systems today can broadcast a unique message simultaneously to thousands or maybe millions of users, ensuring immediate & reliable transmission? What if the collaboration platform, videoconference and media integration can be easily used as the beacon? In case of an incident (as for example fire at the front entrance), a picture, or even better a live video feed will minimize the risk of accident, as people watching it are now aware that there is a fire and they must stay away of it. At the same time the same media offers a visual of the situation to the emergency services, before they arrive at the place of the incident. This is not only a time saver but also gives control (and visual) of the situation even before the start of fire extinguishing.
It is a fact that a UC solution is not the new “fancy toy” for enterprises; It is not a luxury. It is a need. It organizes humans to a unified force and helps them achieve targets progressively by using all means of communications. Employees not confident with their organizational soft skills or teamwork are benefit of the UC, because they can now get organized and progress a lot faster, towards their target. Now visualize what happens when this platform is getting combined with mobility. What if a user turns the camera of the tablet facing the fire through a window of a nearby building? I am sure that a programmatically magic button could easily pass the feed to any monitor of the intranet, through the corridors of the nearby buildings. Can you visualize the impact of that action? People watching the event through monitors are aware of the danger, but they are also calm, as they know three very important facts.
- They are far away from the fire so they know they are not in danger.
- They may choose easily alternative emergency exits to get away of the building, while they remain calm.
- As they walk their way to the exit they can still watch the incident from other monitors around, which gives them constant information (even while running) of the progress and the current state of the incident.
So Unified Communications help humans use most of their senses to communicate. Such a platform introduces awareness to the users (they know). Decision-making skills (they may choose) and observation (they can still watch), which means they can change their decision in real-time whenever they feel there is a reason to do so. Moreover the use of a collaboration platform helps employees to focus on work and not on how to handle data. The logic is already implemented in the platform for them. That helps the employee to become more productive. But how is this happening and why is this related to risk reduction?
Most visionary people today already have those skills. They like to develop others, pass their experience to them and create a better, “upgraded” image of themselves. Leaders are the people thinking more about risks and how to help others to avoid pitfalls. Subconsciously those people pass their experience and skills to the employees without even knowing it by implementing their logic to the UC platform. This is happening because the logic behind the UC functionality is directly affected by their initial purpose. To create humanized communication systems. Their love for humans has been transferred through their passion for telecoms to the platform itself. This is why UC is not just a trend.
This is the reason such systems succeed. Employees using a collaboration platform feel the responsibility to inform others of an upcoming incident more than those using the old-fashion way of working. When we see a stranger trying to cross the road while a vehicle in approaching fast, instinctively we will try to pull that person back. This is happening because we have been built to help each other. This is why we leave in societies. We ensure living while we minimize the risks of extinction. This is exactly what is happening with Unified Communications. The fact that UC users behave with a more protective/informative way is not happening because they are better people than others. It happens because they train themselves unconsciously to work in a more humanized environment and this boosts their disaster risk reduction skills. Subconsciously every each one of us has the risk management skill developed. But humans are getting better through training. The difference between people using the UC and people not, is that those working in a UC environment train their brain models. That helps them to activate and develop those skills as a part of their everyday life.
Summarizing this (not so philosophical) approach, Unified Communications:
- Offer socializing in virtual teams.
- Promote teamwork through a virtual society.
- Reintroduce interpersonal relationships between employees.
- Train hidden skills inside our brain.
- Share valuable knowledge through experience.
- Favor awareness and disaster risk reduction.
Concluding our story, UC is not the new way of calling. It has been used back in times when humanity decided that the only way to survive is to create societies. Today this idea is still imprinted deep into our brain, but since we have managed to greatly reduce the risk of extinction, we are using it in the form of prevention. This unwritten code is minimizing risks that may be a threat. And this is the reason why unified communications promote humanism.
* Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) reduces the damage caused by natural hazards through prevention.
The article has been contributed to http://www.cbrne-terrorism-newsletter.com .