Unified Communications Provide an Ideal Starting Place for Modernization
November 7, 2018
Agencies should look at UCaaS as a valuable, yet simple area to improve with available funding
The Modernizing Government Technology Act of 2017 will provide federal agencies with $500 million over two years to modernize legacy technologies, a much-needed and appreciated capital infusion that can fuel dynamic change.
While these funds are significant, technology leaders will not simply get a blank check to do as they please. To receive money, agencies must apply and get approval from a seven-member Technology Modernization Fund Board that will include the federal CIO, a senior General Services Administration Official, and a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate.
More than anything, federal agencies must prove to the board that proposed projects provide high-value to the agency. This goes beyond simple financial savings, but also value in terms of security, utility, and benefit to both agency employees and citizens.
For many agencies, moving to a cloud-based unified communications and collaboration system – or a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) – will help meet these goals.
The Modernization Benefits of Unified Communications
Unified communications platforms have become a must for any modern office. As of 2017, millennials made up one-third of the workforce, surpassing Gen-X as the largest generation currently working. While the federal workforce may skew slightly older, federal agencies will want to empower all employees to communicate and collaborate with modern tools to improve efficiency.
These workers require a consistent experience across devices and applications. From a UCaaS perspective, that means that voice, message, presence, audio/video/web conferencing and mobile devices are able to work together, furthering the objective of more efficient communications.
By investing in UCaaS, federal agencies can leverage the most up-to-date technology with no commitment to a single system or infrastructure. Agencies can get the best-of-breed, and most modern capabilities, without a significant up-front investment. Agencies can take advantage of standards-based, FedRAMP-compliant capabilities that are more secure, and easier to use, than current legacy infrastructure.
There is also an added simplicity. With UCaaS, agencies no longer have to manage multiple systems – their communications and collaboration environment is centrally-managed. All of this helps address the legacy issue, while saving money, increasing security, and offering additional functionality.
And then there is the people factor. Communications and collaboration environments are used by virtually every employee in some capacity. These tools help employees remain connected on important projects, collaborate on challenges, and improve the overall workflow. Unified communications help employees do their jobs more efficiently, making them an integral part of any office environment. This is especially true in large, disparate federal agencies where employees are spread across the country, or across the world. Any capability that can help connect employees has tremendous benefit.
The Value in Getting Started
Modernizing unified communications with a FedRAMP-approved UCaaS system can also serve as a starting point for agencies on their modernization journey. Transitioning to UCaaS is not a difficult process, one that countless private and public sector organizations have already made, such as the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
By picking UCaaS as the starting point for modernization, agencies can get the most out of the funds allotted to them. The White House has made modernization a top priority in the federal government. Agencies are being ordered to find areas to modernize, not only to save money but to improve overall security and the delivery of citizen services.
The overreliance on legacy systems has left federal technology systems both overcomplicated and difficult to secure. The modernization effort aims to speed up the process of bringing new technologies into agencies, and UCaaS serves as a tremendous starting point. By moving toward a cloud-based unified communications system, federal technology leaders can make an instant impact that will provide immediate results and serve as a jumping off point for larger modernization efforts.