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GCN : October 2013
immediately, decisions can be made quickly. So not only does uni ed communications increase the productivity of employees, but it also enables agencies to make decisions with great agility, which will improve services to constituents and customers. QWhat can an agency do to create a "culture of collaboration" that fully realizes the bene ts of uni ed communications? A The rst step would be for an agency to evaluate how it would intend to use uni ed communications and then map its uses to speci c business functions. It's often a good idea to perform a baseline evaluation of the agency's existing environment to ascertain what toolsets could be employed as part of a consolidated uni ed communications implementation --- which would be considered as sunk investments --- and where new investments might need to be considered. Mapping speci c use cases by agency department to features within the uni ed communications framework would then provide guidance on how the converged environment would be deployed and ultimately used. Employing this discipline will serve to establish a policy framework. The user base must include all tiers of an agency hierarchy, extending from senior management to individual contributors. QIn what ways can agencies leverage uni ed communications to support employees working at home or in the eld? AUni ed communications is one of the key enablers of remote telework. Agency employees will now have access to business applications through a smart device. Additionally, an agency employee's "presence" -- that is, whether they are in a meeting, away or available --- can now be extended to the mobile environment, with phone call treatment now managed through a web-enabled central portal. An agency can actually save operating expense in real estate, since employees, using uni ed communications, can continue to be productive anywhere. QPlay the prognosticator: What is your vision for how agencies will be using uni ed communications two or three years from now? AI believe uni ed communications will be synonymous with mobility. Not only will uni ed communications provide the framework to converge disparate networks and applications (voice, video and data), but it also will make those applications available to the mobile user. Use cases for mobile communications will extend into the elds of law enforcement, health care, the military and more. I also believe machine-to-machine applications will become an integral part of mobility and uni ed communications. The name of the game will be the collection of data. Information being collected from the eld and processed centrally will facilitate real-time decision-making. This will result in saved lives, greater safety for the war ghter and law enforcement, increased productivity for civilian workers -- all while maximizing the budget and increasing operational ef ciencies.