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When an organization implements a unified communications (UC) platform, it brings all of its major communication channels – from phone calls to live chat interfaces – under the same roof. By doing so, it can enjoy greater reliability, flexibility, and scalability across its business communications.
That’s because many UC service providers offer richly featured cloud-based solutions that are more robust than traditional alternatives like a premises-based private branch exchange (PBX). UC technology enables real-time collaboration from virtually any location and any device (as long as there’s an internet connection available), making it perfect for helping remote workers, supporting customers and engaging with sales leads, among other use cases.
Should your company set up a UC solution? Let’s look at what that would entail, and how your team would benefit.
UC solutions vary but generally center on a similar set of features designed to make communications more streamlined and consolidated:
In a UC suite, you can make phone calls from desktop and mobile devices. Both voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and calls over the carrier cellular network are typically supported.
VoIP is especially convenient, as it helps improve productivity by letting employees make and receive calls from a PC, Mac, or tablet in addition to a phone. All they need is reliable internet connectivity.
In fact, UC software like Telesystem UC-One allows for Wi-Fi calling, web/video conference dial-in, and integration with corporate directories. From the same phone number, someone can be consistently reached on the device of their choice, for a truly unified experience.
Chatting with a coworker or customer via video link can add a lot of contexts that would not come through on other channels. For example, online video meetings let participants see each other’s facial reactions and body language.
That can be instrumental in understanding what’s being talked about, and for bridging cultural divides. Video also excels as a collaboration tool for mobile and remote workers, who are becoming more common in many workplaces.
With video, it’s possible for these employees to feel like they’re more connected to each other and to what's going on across the organization. Modern UC solutions enable crisp, high-definition video feeds with in-sync audio so that it feels like attendees are virtually in the same room. Screen sharing capabilities can fill in een more details and let presenters walk everyone through a document or workflow in-depth.
Workplaces are gradually moving beyond email and incorporating alternatives such as instant messaging (IM). Chatting via IM is a natural fit for users who are already accustomed to relying on apps like Apple iMessage and Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger on their own time.
UC solutions deliver an IM experience that’s tightly integrated with other communications tools for voice and video. Participants in an online meeting can engage in in-depth chats even while a presentation is ongoing or a video chat is up.
Files can be shared in these conversations. Accordingly, employees can work more efficiently since they don’t need to route so many of their communications through email inboxes, which are often overwhelming to manage and not even real-time in nature.
Implementing UC technology can unlock multiple benefits for organizations, including improved collaboration, significant cost savings and better futureproofing of their operations.
Employees can work from almost anywhere as long as they have access to a UC platform – that’s how rich and immersive its collaborative capabilities are. Instead of hopping on a traditional phone call or sending an email, they have more options at their disposal:
VoIP calls deliver higher-quality audio along with advanced functionality such as multi-device support for handling calls in the office and on the go.
These features of a UC platform are particularly beneficial to mobile and remote workers, as we noted earlier.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, half of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is at least in theory compatible with telecommuting, while 40% already work remotely some of the time. The total number of telecommuters rose 159% from 2005 to 2017, or about 11 times more quickly than the growth rate of the workforce as a whole.
When working remotely, collaborating can be as straightforward as opening a UC client on a mobile device. From there, you can make calls, read messages, join video conferences and more.
This advanced level of collaboration addresses one of the key risks in remote work, namely employees feeling lonely and like they can’t consistently connect with others. The 2019 State of Remote Work-study from Buffer found that “loneliness” and “collaborating and/or communicating” were two of the top three most-cited challenges, trailing only “unplugging after work.”
Remote or not, UC technology is a great fit for:
Although improved productivity and communications are the primary benefits of upgrading to a UC suite, making the switch can also help cut operating costs. More specifically, a cloud-based UC system can eliminate reliance on costly on-prem PBXes, which don’t provide any real benefits to adjust their relatively high price tags.
With a PBX, the customer is on the hook for numerous costs and complications when upgrading or simply operating the system. For example, adding users is a complex process, while capacity is sharply limited and most maintenance requires a costly on-site vendor visit.
None of that applies to cloud UC. The service provider handles all technical upkeep behind the scenes, rolls out updates and patches, and generally makes it easy to scale the solution to meet current business requirements. All employees can join the platform and get reliable service from almost any device, thanks to the robust infrastructure supporting the UC platform, as well as its intuitive interface on both desktop and mobile clients.
As businesses grow, their communication needs a change in tandem. Whenever they hire new employees or open additional offices, they need a way to ensure that their operations scale accordingly. UC technology lets them do so without having to worry so much about delivering a consistent experience or managing costs.
For example, a worker who just came aboard can get started right away with a UC app on their iOS or Android phone/tablet. From there, they can handle all of their calls, join video conferences, share their screen, and send messages, just like everyone else in the company. Plus, they can take advantage of the UC platform’s integration with other business productivity software such as office suites, file-sharing services, and customer relationship management solutions.
These integrations, along with the general cloud-based and managed setup, make UC systems great for futureproofing an organization’s communications. In other words, UC suites can seamlessly evolve alongside your business requirements and provide the reliability that employees expect regardless of their locations, without all the complexity of a PBX.
UC solutions can be quickly connected to existing applications (e.g., Microsoft Office 365, Google G Suite, and Salesforce) and be integrated with others down the line, too, for instance, a new company social media account or an expense reporting solution. Content from these apps and across the different UC channels can be consolidated within the UC app’s interface so that employees can keep pace with what’s happening even as new sources of information are added.
Communications strategies and needs vary by industry, but almost any organization that relies on phone calls and emails today would benefit from implementing a UC system. Making the switch to UC helps control costs, increase scalability, and open up newer, more efficient communications options to employees, including video conferencing and consistent instant messaging across devices.
Moreover, any company with mobile and remote employees can harness the power of UC to consistently connect these workers and boost their productivity. UC-One from Telesystem is optimized for mobile devices, so there’s no dropoff in experience when someone’s traveling or working remotely.
If you want more guidance on how to get started with UC, be sure to visit our UC-One overview page. You can also contact our team directly for a quote on this solution or on any other services for voice, networking, and more.