Keeping a constant flow of quality communication between all interested parties is a crucial part of any business. In order to accomplish that, you need to have the right tools. Today’s communication products and services are more advanced than ever, but making sure they can seamlessly integrate with each other as well as with your team and their workflow can be a bit of a challenge. One way to do this is through unified communications.
Lots of modern businesses see the value in UC, and they’re flocking to services that provide all the advanced communications tools they need in one place. Unified communications refers to the integration of various communication methods and tools into a single, cohesive system. That’s a very broad definition that we’ll get into more detail about in the next section.
What is Unified Communications?
We’ve already gone over the dictionary definition of unified communications, but what does that mean for your business? Essentially, it means more seamless collaboration across your team. There are lots of tools working together in unified communications to make that happen, including:
- Voice Communication: This includes traditional phone calls, voice over IP (VoIP), and voicemail.
- Instant Messaging (Chat): Real-time text-based communication between users.
- Video Conferencing: Enables face-to-face meetings, webinars, and group collaborations irrespective of participants’ geographical locations.
- Email: Typically a standalone staple in businesses, integrating email with other communication tools can boost its efficiency.
- Presence Information: Allows users to see the availability status of their colleagues (e.g., online, away, busy).
- Mobile: Many UC solutions integrate with mobile devices, so users can communicate on the go.
- Collaboration Tools: This can include screen sharing, whiteboarding, file sharing, and other collaborative software features.
- Unified Messaging: Integrates different messaging services like voicemail, SMS, and fax.
The primary goal of UC is to enhance business communication, collaboration, and productivity by breaking down the barriers between separate communication tools. By having these tools work together under one system, businesses can more seamlessly manage and maintain their communication infrastructure.
Traditional communication tools, on the other hand, are mostly separated. You might have one tool for video conferencing that doesn’t allow for phone calls, or you might use one service specifically for instant messaging between team members and not for anything else.
The Benefits of UC for Modern Businesses
Now that you’re more aware of what unified communications entails, let’s discuss the specific benefits your business will be able to take advantage of when you adopt UC services.
Unified communications integrates tools like video conferencing, instant messaging, mobile apps, & web phones, thus streamlining the collaborative process and allowing employees the flexibility to collaborate from anywhere.. With everything centralized and accessible, it reduces the learning curve for teams, allowing for faster onboarding and efficient communication. So many tools being bundled together makes it easy for more ideas to be shared, improved upon, and ultimately implemented. This holistic approach not only fosters innovation but also ensures that everyone is on the same page, leading to more cohesive and productive teamwork.
Increased Efficiency and Productivity
Things move faster when everyone can communicate with ease. With the integrated approach of unified communications, interactions become more seamless, whether through video conferencing, instant messaging, or shared documents. The myriad of tools offered by unified communications companies breaks down silos, reduces any barriers to getting everyone on the same page, and fosters a collaborative environment.
As a result, decision-making becomes more informed and quicker. That means processes can be streamlined and sped up, ultimately bringing your organization huge gains in efficiency. This can lead to faster project turnarounds, improved customer satisfaction, and a competitive edge in the market.
One way unified communications can save your organization money is through reducing the need for travel. Face-to-face communication will always have some important purposes, but with reliable unified communications tools, video conferencing can be supremely effective for your important meetings. Plus, cost-efficient call routing and reduced telephone expenses can all add up to noticeable cost savings, too.
Scalability and Flexibility
A unified communications setup can easily evolve alongside your business. It’s simple to add or remove users, and these systems can quickly adapt to changes in your business, including technological upgrades or shifts in operational strategy. This also includes any physical moves you might make from one office to another or even transitions to remote work setups. You have a true partner in a unified communications service — it’ll be right by your side through all the changes, challenges, and growth phases your organization will face.
Real-World Examples of UC Implementation
All the theoretical talk can be beneficial in laying a framework for an understanding of unified communications, but real-world examples will help you get a clearer understanding of how exactly these services fit into your existing business. We’ve split them based on the size of the business.
Compared to larger operations, small businesses have limited resources and need to be agile, adapting to all the small changes that can have a big impact on their bottom line. There’s not a lot of room for error.
Unified communications is a natural choice for businesses with those struggles. Like we outlined above, UC services are incredibly adaptable. Let’s look at an example. A small business has a relatively small budget for their communications tools, as they are just getting started. They’re not sure how many phone calls they’ll receive, so they only have one line at first. After business picks up a little and they realize they need more resources devoted to answering calls, they add two more lines. UC works well for them here because they can scale down or up as small or as large as is needed, and changes can be made quickly.
Adding services as needed under one provider is another way small businesses benefit from unified communications. Instead of going to a different company for each new service needed, a UC provider can simply add more services to the plan. It’s convenient, and it’s highly useful for a small business that’s constantly on its toes.
The struggles of large enterprises that utilize unified communications are quite different from a small business with only a few services, but they are just as adeptly managed. Huge corporations need to connect global teams and facilitate large-scale operations.
UC is made for those sorts of situations. For teams across time zones that need lots of tools to make sure everyone stays on the same page, unified communications can provide all they need in one system. A team that needs to have lots of complicated conference calls, for example, would be well-served by a UC system. It’s more convenient and intuitive for employees to have all of their communications needs covered by one provider. Unified communications makes it easier for those different services to integrate seamlessly, too.
Addressing Common Concerns about UC
All this sounds great, but you might have some lingering concerns about switching to unified communications. Going from separate services for all of your communications needs to uniting it all under one umbrella might feel a bit daunting. Here, we’ll put those fears to bed.
The safety of your sensitive or proprietary data is one top concern of many companies looking to move in a more modern communications direction. Unified communications usually handles this concern with encryption. This process ensures that your data is safe and your communications are secure. There are different methods of encryption that suit different levels of security needs, and you can find unified communications services that offer the right security solutions for your organization.
Transition and Integration Challenges
With technology, there are often a few bumps in the road when you’re trying to switch from one system, provider, or service to another. It’s important to anticipate those potential pitfalls so your transition from your current communications setup over to UC is easy.
Having a team and leader in charge of the transition can help, as can inventorying exactly what communications tools you currently use so that there’s no gap in services. After deciding on the right plan for those needs, that team should research and navigate the differences between the existing system and the new one.
Training and Adoption
All of the innovations a UC system brings are great additions to your organization, but getting your team to smoothly transition into that system and away from the communications tools they were previously using can be a bit of a concern for some folks. There are, however, simple ways to make that transition as painless as possible.
One thing the team in charge of the transition to unified communications should do is make sure there is plenty of user training available. This can cut down on the potential frustration of trying to learn to use an unfamiliar system. There will likely be some growing pains during the adoption process, but good UC providers will have lots of support available to your team throughout the transition as well as going forward.
Future of UC and Why Businesses Should Get Onboard Now
We’ve covered the current state of unified communications, but there are exciting advancements coming soon. Here’s what you can look forward to being on the cutting edge of if you adopt unified communications now.
Emerging Trends in UC
Artificial intelligence has become a huge trend in many technology spheres recently, and unified communications is no exception. There are already lots of ways AI can enhance UC — you’re probably already familiar with virtual assistants and chatbots that are powered through artificial intelligence. Existing features like these will only get better and more efficient over time.
Some cutting-edge AI features to look forward to include real-time meeting transcription, translation, and sentiment analysis. Beyond just virtual meeting enhancements, though, there are tons of other ways AI is going to make
The goal is to streamline processes and seamlessly integrate all the tools available to your organization. AI and UC can work together to bring impressive results for your organization.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things and associated integrations are other important emerging trends to keep your eyes on in unified communications. If you’re unfamiliar with that term, IoT refers to everyday objects that are interconnected and can communicate with each other through the internet. Typical examples include wearables, like smartwatches, and smart home devices.
IoT applications will continue to grow over time, and they will include lots of opportunities for integration with unified communications. For example, automated workflows can be designed where a sensor or device detects a specific event, and that triggers a unified communication action, such as sending an automated message, starting a call, or notifying a team.
Essentially, IoT can provide the data and context from a vast array of connected devices, and UC can leverage all that data to enhance collaboration.
Being ahead of the curve, attracting top talent, and offering modern communication tools are all important ways to keep your company competitive in this fast-paced culture. UC services can help keep your team on top of everything as well as making your organization an efficient, productive, and enjoyable place to work. Persistent communications issues can cause huge headaches for your team.
Choose unified communications.
From all the features you can utilize to the best ways to maximize your use of them right off the bat, we’ve covered the basics of unified communications. These services are majorly useful in their current iteration, but there are also huge innovations on the horizon. Switching to unified communications now will keep your business on top of those advances as they roll out in the future.
The first step is to evaluate your current communication infrastructure. Is it meeting the needs of your team, customers, and all other interested parties? Will it adapt with you over time, or is it stuck in the past?
If you’re interested in making the transition to unified communications after everything you’ve learned here, it’s time to start the process. You can reach out to us here at Mastor — our expert team would be happy to help guide you toward the right UC solution for your organization.