7
Mar 21

Connect Your Team with a Unified Communication and Collaboration Solution

2020 was a great year for digital transformation, as organizations across the U.S. introduced new communication and collaboration solutions to keep their teams connected from home. But while these applications were critical to their survival in 2020, businesses that made purchases without a solid technology strategy are now dealing with the aftermath: a disjointed collection of tools that simply don’t work together.

At many companies, employees report experiencing application overload and some spend as long as an hour each day toggling between various accounts. When there is a separate tool for everything, or each department uses its own communication tools, workers can’t help but feel disconnected from their colleagues and find it challenging to collaborate. In addition, using too many disparate applications and vendors can be costly to the organization, not to mention a pain to manage.

Unifying all communication and collaboration functionalities into a cohesive ecosystem can go a long way in simplifying technology management and facilitates communication among team members. A cohesive system reduces the number of tools each person uses, making the entire organization more efficient and productive as a result.

If your business communication feels disjointed at times, here are 4 reasons why you should consider switching to a unified communication and collaboration solution:

Increase efficiency and productivity on your team.

A Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) solution can go a long way in reducing application overload. When functions such as voice, video, chat, file sharing and even text messaging are all included in the same system, your employees no longer waste time toggling between accounts. Leading UCC platforms provide a single sign-on for easy access and allow users to switch between communication channels with just a few clicks. Dragging and dropping contacts into a call window to create an instant conference or turning a voice call into a video call in a couple of clicks can significantly improve your team’s productivity.

Easily connect users with various hardware needs.

Few businesses are lucky enough to have a homogeneous hardware and software infrastructure for all of their employees. Most organizations manage a mixed bag of various end-user devices and software tools. It can range anywhere from in-office desk phones and videoconferencing tools to advanced call center software for Customer Service teams and even paging systems for warehouse locations.

A unified communication and collaboration solution connects all of your end-users into a cohesive system, regardless what hardware or communication channel they need to be successful in their work. With leading UCC solutions, call center teams can easily transfer calls to other departments, and remote employees can quickly connect with in-office colleagues using a desktop softphone, to name just a couple of examples.

Work from anywhere and any device.

With the Covid-19 vaccine in sight, your business may have already started its gradual transition back to the office. But as part of your team continues to work from home, bridging the communication gap between in-office staff and remote employees can be a challenge.

Unified communication and collaboration technology enables your users to connect with their teams from virtually any location and any device, making their transition back to the office a breeze. Using a single account and a ring-all strategy, your staff can easily answer calls and communicate with their colleagues, whether they are sitting at the office, using their desktop softphones from home or are relying on a mobile device on-the-go.

As a bonus, investing in a solid UCC solution will provide your business with long-term flexibility and business continuity when your office is inaccessible due to inclement weather or when an employee needs to work from home due to illness.

Manage a single, cost-effective subscription.

If your team is currently using various communication tools, you know that joggling multiple vendor contracts, subscriptions and technologies is no easy task, not to mention a costly endeavor. Unified communication solutions enable you to combine tools such as voice, video, chat, file sharing and text messaging into a single, cost-effective subscription. Managing a single service contract and a single tech support channel for all your team’s communication needs can significantly reduce your burden and free your time for more important strategic initiatives.

Digital transformation provides businesses with the channels they need to continue working during challenging circumstances. But without a clearly defined technology strategy, it can also lead to application overload and a disjointed communication system that is often difficult to navigate. Switching to a UC solution allows you to connect your entire team into a single communication system, and provides your staff with the easy-to-use tools they need to stay productive.

9
Dec 16

The Future of Unified Communications: Bringing Integration to a Diverse and Evolving Workforce

 

The unified communications (UC) landscape is changing and evolving as technology continues to integrate our workforce. The rising expectations of enterprises are causing the UC space to push boundaries and blur the lines between work, leisure and mobility.

To close out the month of November, we’ve pulled together articles from around the web that offer insight into the current state of the UC space and how it will evolve to accommodate employee work habits, generational preferences and the increasing popularity of the remote workforce.

Why the Goal Should be Unified Experiences – Not Just Unified Communications

In this EnterpriseAppsTech article, Curtis Peterson suggests that the UC sector will strive to unify the entire workplace experience, not just its technologies. “Mobile phones won’t be the only ‘smart’ phones; we need smart desk phones that connect naturally to workplace applications. Workplace communication and collaboration tools in the cloud will allow us to shift from text based messaging and file sharing to real-time voice and video calls without losing the context of an interaction.”

Is UC Ready for the Digital Transformation?

According to James Anderson in this Channel Partners article, the digital transformation will continue to impact and expand the UC industry. “There are now more solutions in the marketplace than ever before,” he explains. “It will be essential for businesses to align themselves with an expert to help them navigate all of the various UC vendors and deployment options.” Moving forward, partners will have a greater influence on the industry, as well as a greater opportunity to offer guidance.

The Enterprise Gets Serious about Connecting its Workforce

The workforce is ready for the UC space and office technology to mirror the experiences they've become accustomed to within their consumer lives, as Michael Affronti states in this No Jitter article. “People want choices for how they communicate and engage with their teammates. They want their employers to understand the value these tools can bring to fostering workplace culture and job satisfaction.”

Bridging the Gap: Unified Communications for the Multigenerational Workforce

In his CIOReview article, Rich Shaw explains how the UC space will continue to bridge the gaps that the global workforce once was accustomed to. “Companies continue to lean into a mobile workplace, and many employees use remote offices or work out of their homes. This structure is becoming increasingly commonplace, making UC vital to the competitive business environment in order to keep a competitive advantage,” he states. “No doubt a business will experience setbacks if employees cannot connect and collaborate cohesively across miles and platforms.”

__________

The UC space has many changes and innovations on the horizon as it continues to push the boundaries of workplace collaboration capabilities, providing organizations with the tools they need to satisfy employees while bolstering productivity and mobility.

 

 

22
Aug 16

Increase Productivity with Unified Communications

Unifed CommunicationsThere was a time when work typically meant going to an office, so it’s not surprising that traditional business phone systems were built around a single, static location. Depending on size, a facility could install a premise-based key system or PBX or could choose central office-based Centrex. Either of the on-site options typically involved a capital expenditure, took up space, anything from a closet to a room. It entailed maintenance, repair, and general "care and feeding” of the system, so the user either had to hire a telecom manager to handle moves, changes, and software updates or pay a contractor for support.

The Centrex alternative freed up capital and real estate but could still entail delay and “nickel-and-dime” charges for features, moves, adds, or changes. In-house systems had size limitations and could require costly, disruptive equipment swaps when those thresholds were reached. And as systems aged, components for repair or expansion would get harder to find and eventually disappear completely. And even if all those problems could be overcome, today’s businesses now function far away from the office—at home, in the car, or on the road—beyond the easy reach of those premise-based or CO-based systems.

Fortunately there is a modern alternative ideally suited to today’s business needs. A Unified Communications (UC) solution utilizes the vast reach of the Internet to provide feature-rich phone service wherever your business goes. Powerful office phones connect to cloud-based switching systems using IP (Internet Protocol), but the system can just as easily route calls to or from cellphones as easily as to a desk phone.

Conservative estimates show the per-employee time savings over traditional systems at about 30 minutes a day or 7800 minutes (16 work days) a year. At an average wage of $24.52 per hour, that works out to over $3000 per year per employee.

Voice over IP (VoIP) is suitable for any size operation and delivers telephony as a Unified Communications service. Because it requires no on-site switching equipment, there is no capital outlay. You don’t have to tie up office space to house the system. Because you don’t own the system, you don’t have to manage it, upgrade software, or pay for repairs. And upgrades are handled by the service provider.  This kind of resource shift can help realize greater efficiency within your team.

Besides being convenient, flexible, and cost-effective, hosted voice is extremely reliable, using redundant systems located in hardened sites. These systems are at least as well equipped and protected as traditional phone company central office systems and better equipped than most user sites to stay operational in a disaster situation. In fact, when disasters have completely shut down the offices of hosted voice customers, they’ve been able to move to remote facilities and continue operations uninterrupted, routing calls to cell phones or other offices.

Security is also a concern with a premise-based system as it is accessible to people that may want to do your business harm. One disgruntled employee can take down your entire system. With Unified Communications your service is safe and redundant. The Technology Resource Center of America found in a study that “45% of businesses have had a major communications disaster”. With hosted and managed Unified Communications solution you’ll have greater peace of mind.

Unified Communications solutions can deliver the same quality of service as traditional phone network with quality of service (QoS) guaranteed under contract with the provider. A UC solution also includes a higher quality voice experience with HD voice. Such a guarantee, of course, depends on the quality of Internet service to your facility, since “cut-rate” Internet connectivity can allow latency—millisecond delays in signal transmission—that are perfectly acceptable when sending data; voice, however, requires real-time connectivity. If voice and Internet connectivity are provided by different vendors, it may be difficult to assign responsibility if there are voice quality problems, so the easy way to ensure voice quality connectivity is to let a single vendor provide unified communication service including both voice and data connectivity.

In short, UC is rapidly displacing on premise and Centrex telephony systems, and for good reason. It frees up on-site real estate and eliminates up-front capital cost. It provides near-perfect reliability, even in the event of disaster and, with proper Internet connectivity, ensures voice quality equal to that of the best traditional systems or even better with HD voice. Unified Communication systems are massively scalable, eliminating barriers to growth, and they come complete with the day-to-day support that would normally require a full-, part-time, or contract telecom manager. Best of all, they improve employee productivity and allow for better customer engagement. UC provides capabilities that traditional systems can’t match, e.g., the ability to fully integrate mobile devices into the organization’s phone system, creating a system that fits the way we do business today. And UC is just the beginning. A vendor providing both cloud-based voice and data services can provide economies of scale, a single point of contact, and room to grow both in size and capabilities for truly individualized, unified communications.

13
Jul 15

How to maximize UC potential

Unified communications and digital phone systems have the obvious benefits of flexibility and collaboration, but how can you get the most out of those advantages? What does better collaboration mean for your company? You can maximize the potential for your UC services with a communications-enabled business process. A CEBP is when UC taps into the power of other cloud based services to boost business competitiveness and responsiveness. Here are some key elements and advantages to a CEBP.

unnamed_8

Understanding and participating in internal processes
Some organizations, especially those in sale, might opt for setting up services that coordinate with key performance indicators. Software programmed with KPIs in mind can alert a supervisor if an employee has been on the phone with a customer longer than the predetermined time frame, for example. In the exact moment a KPI alert is triggered, a supervisor will know which employee is facing a workplace challenge and can step in to help.

Since supervisors receive this information in real-time, they can hop on the call with the agent and coach them through with applications that allow the supervisor to speak to the agent and lend advice without the customer on the line hearing anything. In this type of situation, a supervisor uses unified communications not just to collaborate with employees but to fix daily business practices that will ultimately boost competitiveness.

Additionally, the struggle one employee experiences could certainly be shared by others. Since this could be an issue for multiple people, it is best practice for a supervisor to review the specific policy and make corrections to adapt to employee needs. Updating internal processes is vital not just for having the workday flow smoothly but also for meeting customers' ever changing needs. That is the goal of a business after all.

Making effective changes
With every update, new information regarding what the processes entail and when they will be implemented needs to be communicated to employees in a clear and efficient manner. By tapping into the wealth of knowledge provided with real-time monitoring of internal processes, changes to company procedure will be more influential on the overall success of the business.

Those policies, though, are not effective until they are put in place. The quicker employees understand the new concepts, the faster an organization can gain competitiveness. Applications like video conferencing, instant messaging, conference calling and presence information, all of which are standard for UC solutions, help communicate information to employees more efficiently. Not only are these communications methods faster, but the variety of mediums of communication ensure that all learning styles and needs will be met.