The concept of unified communications (UC) is constantly being discussed among business circles. Although organizations define it differently, the general consensus is that UC allows enterprises to integrate both real-time and non-real-time communications according to their requirements and processes, ideally through a “unified” interface that can be accessed via different media or device types.
Non-technical people might think of UC as a sole product that delivers everything in one place, but they must understand that a UC solution is made up of a variety of components and tools that, when tied together, can work to make communications more effective and intuitive.
IT personnel and business decision makers, meanwhile, get confused and forced to choose among the many approaches and solutions existing in the market that promise to deliver unified communications in attractive packages.
So, what makes up a unified communications solution? Read on to discover the must-haves that could help decision makers become better equipped in choosing the right UC product.
Today’s highly mobile workforce needs a business communication solution that matches their work style. Therefore, it’s important for any UC platform to offer unlimited mobility for multiple devices. Employees should be able to access communications features and set up individual presences using their smartphones, laptops, tablets, or any other smart device anytime and anywhere. Admins should be able to change configurations and settings as needed, especially when they’re on the go or could not be physically present at the office. Mobility features are so critical these days that they should be top priority for vendors wanting to truly dominate the market.
Having a tool that will serve as a central communications hub is a must especially for organizations with distributed offices and remote employees. Tools such as Glip can foster real-time collaboration through internal chat features, video conferencing, file sharing, and task management. It will be ideal, however, for a collaboration tool to come as a component of a complete unified communications platform to ensure a truly “unified” experience for the entire organization.
Modern enterprises who want an edge over the competition should take advantage of a unified communications solution that offers integration with other commonly used business tools. With a powerful integration functionality, companies can synchronize their communications with customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), content management system (CMS), and other software vital to the business. As a result, employees can maximize output without having to launch multiple computer programs to complete tasks.
By using the presence functionality within a unified communications suite, individuals can have direct access to their availability settings. They can be present on their desk phones, via instant messaging on their personal computers, their mobile phones, or others. Other members of the organization can then make better communication decisions since they can easily determine who’s available and they know who to reach out to using their preferred way to initiate contact. Businesses, particularly those thriving in varying time zones, can save time and effort in making voice calls or participating in video conferences and the like. For instance, one employee discovers that the counterpart he’s working with from China is not available to talk over the phone. He then checks out his list of contacts using his messaging tool to try and see if his colleague is available to chat. He gets a reply via the same channel and learns that the said colleague is currently on a conference call.
Meeting with various teams will definitely be more efficient with high-definition web, audio, and video conferencing features. Advanced features such as the ability to share screens, files, or presentations plus the capacity to annotate or highlight content and create recordings of each conferencing event can make for a more interactive meeting environment. A unified communications provider that offers this highly important functionality can thus contribute to eliminating (or reducing) unproductive and expensive travel among employees while helping them stay connected with colleagues, partners, and clients.
An enhanced contact center software can be another critical component of UC. In the early days of telephony, people relied on mere desk phones to serve customers. Today, however, complete contact center solutions have paved the way for massive improvements in providing top-notch customer experience. For example, businesses can now serve clients via outbound or inbound calling even when the said clients used another medium of their choice aside from the phone (such as social media or web chat). Businesses are now also able to resolve customer issues upon initial contact due to this technology. In addition, contact center solutions have also enabled agents to be present to take or make calls regardless of their physical location.
All of these tools play an important role in unified communications. Most vendors are still on the early stages, but what’s certain is that UC implementation in the future will help more and more businesses integrate and optimize their business processes.
Guest Author: Klaris Chua is a digital content marketer who has written many pieces on startups and small business communications. She used to be a reporter for a business newspaper but the conventional path of a writer didn’t appeal to her. You can connect with her on Twitter.