Unified communications, also known simply as UC, is the consolidation of communications channels (such as voice, instant messaging, mobility features, etc).
The popularity of unified communications is skyrocketing – its market size is predicted to reach $96 billion by 2023. That’s largely due to cost-savings of reducing the volume of disparate communication channels, as well as the simplified IT management and user-friendliness of it all.
The advantages of UC
UC gives your organization a tangible strategy to harness the power of your communications tools and put them to work for you to increase overall productivity and clarity.
It’s important to note that a UC strategy isn’t a luxury or an advanced business strategy only used by a Fortune 500 companies. Even SMBs can incorporate UC solutions to keep their communication channels scalable and efficient.
We’ve identified 6 distinct ways that UC can benefit your business. Let’s take a look at them now.
1. Effectively humanize business processes
When you parse through the strategies and resource allocations of any organization, there’s one common ingredient—people. No matter what your company does or sells, you’re in the people business. People work for you. Your clients are people. Everything you do, ultimately, involves people.
UC isn’t so much a fancy new box to stick in a server room or an app you need to train everyone on. While it may involve aspects of technology to support it, it’s focused on giving you ways to make your business people-centric with more concentrated communications, allowing for more connected business processes.
It’s also noted that ample communication boosts efficiency, creativity and productivity. Effective communication leads to improvements in productivity of as much as 25% when employees feel engaged with their work and connected with their co-workers.
2. Put a stop to shadow IT
Shadow IT is the bane of many corporate IT departments. Employees use non-sanctioned tech tools like sketchy IM apps and file sharing solutions because they’re convenient, easy-to-learn, and readily available.
But that shouldn’t be necessary with a complete UC strategy.
After all, if you give your staff user-friendly options for both getting their work done and staying in touch with each other, there’s no reason for them to find alternate options. In one fell swoop, you can cut down on security risks while making your staff’s lives easier.
“The simple act of optimizing your communication and maximizing the benefit of a single UC solution over others will quickly eliminate some of the shadowy internal competition.” – CIO
A practical example:
Your marketing team needs to work after-hours in crunch time to get a brochure finished for you. However, they’re using Facebook Messenger to communicate quickly. In the process, they’re sending company information and proprietary files over the connection.
Anyone with access to their account now has access to your company data.
With UC, you can avoid this scenario that puts you at risk. Let’s take the Microsoft platform as an example – with Microsoft Teams, you can dedicate an IM platform to your team that has file sharing, instant messaging, and video conferencing.
They can communicate through there at all times thanks to a cloud connection. Additionally, it’s all controlled by an administrator within your organization, so there’s a much lower chance of data leaking out.
3. Keep things connected easily with the cloud
The cloud has fundamentally changed how we do business.
Cloud solutions are secure, robust and readily available to businesses of all sizes in cost-effective packages that scale to your exact needs, whether you’re an established company or one that’s growing successfully.
And UC is right there in the mix.
Cloud-based UC tools integrate with each other, update frequently to keep pace with the latest tech trends and developments, and they’re remotely accessible. You don’t even have to be in your office to stay in the loop.
Or, simply put, it means people can stay better connected for longer, and from anywhere.
4. Give flexibility to communications
While UC includes phone systems, it goes much further beyond them.
There’s instant messaging, file sharing, screen sharing, video conferencing, webinars and all kinds of other collaborative, engaging options.
A cohesive UC strategy gives you the opportunity to help your people engage with each other at all levels.
A practical example:
Different people engage and retain information better with different tools – “Employee A” might prefer classic phone calls, while “Employee B” prefers to read IMs and emails.
The beauty of UC is that it can give them a way to attain the same information using whatever they prefer. A UC can have calls recorded for “Employee A” to review at any time, while “Employee B” can have that same call transcribed to text and sent to them via email.
In short, UC can be a win-win all around.
5. Double-down on customer experience
UC isn’t just about your internal focus. It affects your customer base, too.
Whether you sell to other businesses or to individual consumers, few things can propel a company to success (or reduce a company to failure) like the customer experience. The easier it is to reach out to your support staff, the happier your customers will be.
“Customer experience rises to the top of whether or not the customer will decide to keep doing business with a brand.” – Forbes
A practical example:
You’ve got a team of 5 people focused on customer experience for a product. One of the 5 is out on PTO in the middle of a days-long case solving a customer’s issue. With UC, the other 4 members can be updated in real-time via email, IM, calls and more about the status of the ticket.
Instead of bottle-necking the communication to the rate of the employee on PTO, your remaining team has the information needed to assist the customer. That leads to a faster response time and a happier customer that remains more loyal to your brand.
Bring people together anywhere, on any device, with integrated collaboration from Cisco
People work together in different ways. And they use a lot of collaboration tools: IP telephony for voice calling, web and video conferencing, voice mail, mobility, desktop sharing, instant messaging and presence, and more.
Unified communications (UC) solutions deliver integration of these tools, with seamless user experiences that help people work together more effectively. Anywhere, on any device. They bring real-time communication from your phone system and conferencing solutions together with messaging and chat, and integrate with everyday business applications using APIs.
UC solutions are available as on-premises software, partner-hosted solutions, or as a service (UCaaS) from cloud providers.
Want to keep the UC conversation going? Feel free to contact us today to discuss needs or strategies. We’re more than happy to help.