Unified communications adoption is skyrocketing, and for good reason. It saves money, allows mobile workers or staff in different offices to easily stay in touch and aids in operations continuity. Implementation can be a challenge. A service provider can guide you through the process and rearchitect and optimize the network to ensure good quality of service.
Unified communications breaks down the silos that previously existed between different communications technologies, such as e-mail and phone, and brings them all together with voice, video and data traffic converged on one network. As a result, staff are empowered with new ways to communicate and collaborate, resulting in improved worker productivity and a lower total cost of ownership.
Video conferencing, for example, lets workers in different locations hold meetings without having to travel, which not only reduces travel costs, but also helps firms’ green efforts by cutting down on carbon emissions. In addition, unified communications allows businesses to reduce maintenance and energy costs because they are only operating and managing one network.
Unified communications features come in four categories.
Telephony and Voice Over IP (VoIP)
By routing voice calls over the network, calls between offices are now internal, saving businesses on long distance charges. Staffers can now take advantage of Find Me/Follow Me services, meaning they can route their office calls to their cell phones or their computers when working remotely.
Work staff can launch phone software on their computers to securely dial and receive phone calls with their office phone numbers. VoIP also allows IT staffers to deploy new phone lines faster and more cost effectively.
Conferencing and Collaboration
Through a user interface, workers can check their colleagues’ online presence, and if they’re available, they can instant message, talk, hold video conferences and edit documents together. At large offices, businesses can deploy enterprise-class video conferencing, allowing staff to see each other on large high definition televisions. Smaller locations can deploy smaller tabletop video conferencing units.
This technology includes e-mail, instant messaging and unified messaging, giving workers the ability to check their work voicemail on their smartphones or their computers’ e-mail program, a helpful feature when work staff are working remotely.
Call Centre Management
For organizations that run call centres, call centre technologies integrate phone, e-mail, instant messaging, web collaboration software and customer relationship management tools on one unified system, which improves customer service.
Unified Communications Offerings
There are many excellent unified communications vendors and manufacturers available. Some service providers specialize in one vendor’s unified communications technology. But there is value in finding a service provider that has expertise in multiple vendors to give you the best, most appropriate and cost-effective solution for your specific needs.
For example, some systems can run on a hybrid model of old PBX technology coupled with new VoIP technology. A service provider well-versed in multiple vendors can help you determine whether you can accomplish your unified communications goals through a staged upgrade of your existing phone system, rather than ripping and replacing your infrastructure with an entirely new system. This option allows you to migrate at a pace that suits your needs.
Service vendors will also check to see if your network can handle the extra bandwidth requirements. And if not, they will make recommendations to build up your network. Service providers can also perform proof-of-concept deployments, which are small deployments of 10 users or fewer that allow IT departments to test the technology. They can also do the implementation work and provide post-sales support.