Ever feel like you spend more time managing your communications than managing your business? Your employees spend countless hours every week toggling between email and voicemail; inbound calls, outbound calls and conference calls; desk phone and mobile device; desktop computer, laptop computer and tablet; and web browser, customer relationship management (CRM) programs and other apps.
Unified communications (UC) takes the hassle out of managing disparate platforms and applications. Even better: With new mobile- and cloud-based platforms, UC is no longer tied to PBX and other premise-based equipment. That means businesses can quickly and cost-effectively put the power of UC to work to better manage their communications and collaboration and be more productive.
UC enhances presence and availability. “Presence” is a key component of UC and is familiar to anyone who has used an instant messaging app. Users can easily find colleagues, determine where they are and check their availability for an immediate call or a future meeting. Calls to a landline phone can be accepted on a mobile phone while outside of the office. Plus, with cloud-based UC’s mobile-enabled find me/follow me functionality, even a natural disaster (fire, flood) or power outage in the last-mile network won’t affect users’ ability to stay connected and be reached by phone.
UC eliminates downtime. For most businesses, voice communications is a necessity, but it can be a source of frustration as well. Cloud-based UC eliminates one key frustration because it allows users to seamlessly transfer and transport calls from one device to another. Users can start a call from an office-based landline or desktop call app and then take the call on the road via a mobile device, with one easy click instead of having to hang up and re-dial. UC also lets users connect with others in real time instead of having to leave messages and wait for a response.
UC improves collaboration and decision-making. UC provides easy access to tools and apps from multiple devices. Screen sharing, web and audio conferencing, virtual workspaces, smart whiteboards, and team chat can be integrated with project management and workflow systems to make it easier for individuals and teams to meet remotely and collaborate with one another.
UC drives revenue-generating initiatives. With intuitive cloud-based UC, businesses no longer need to devote technology-certified IT staff and capital expenses to manage, provision and support communications. Because UC is easily scalable, businesses of virtually any size and shape can easily add or delete users without special training or premise-based equipment required. IT staff can be re-allocated to revenue-generating initiatives.
The benefits of UC extend beyond the C-suite; they apply to individual users as well. For example, users no longer need to carry both a personal mobile phone and a business mobile phone. With a cloud-based UC system, all business communications are routed through an easily downloadable app. Business-related communications traffic remains secure in the cloud, and individual employees aren’t required to track and submit business-related communications expenses for reimbursement.
Heavily regulated industries such as healthcare, finance and government may still have hurdles to overcome before UC becomes well-entrenched, but for most business sectors, cloud-based UC is the best way to converge voice and data communications and enhance communications-driven productivity.