Unified Communications (UC) is a type of enterprise-class platform integrating all the latest digital communication and collaboration tools into a single, unified offering using hardware and software that is either on-premises or in the cloud.
UC systems typically include the following:
- Voice Communications
- Advanced Call Control
- Presence (sensing & reacting to employees’ availability via calendars and activity)
- Instant Messaging/Chat
- Automated Attendants
- Smart Directories
Advanced features are also available on some systems, including Virtual Personal Assistants, Call Center Functionality, Automated Notifications, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) interfaces, and more.
Why do businesses need Unified Communications systems?
Businesses implement Unified Communications (UC) systems for a wide range of different reasons. Almost all of them, however, are looking to boost their efficiency and streamline their communications.
UC solutions provide businesses with a single fully-integrated platform that all management and employees have the ability to connect to. Unified Communications software is also highly flexible and allows small-to-medium sized businesses to implement a solution that fits their unique needs with the option to scale up at a later date.
Teamwork and collaboration is the future of work. Deploying a unified communications solution frees employees from the restrictions traditionally imposed by location. A powerful UC solution delivers all the enterprise-class communications technologies required to empower your workforce, increasing productivity for organizations, teams and individuals.
What are the main benefits of a Unified Communications system?
Unified Communications systems can benefit companies in plenty of ways. They can drastically improve communications between a business and its clients, as well as greatly simplify collaboration and organization within project teams.
Here are some of the most significant benefits of Unified Communications:
UC systems save an enormous amount of time by empowering employees to communicate with key people and access essential information from anywhere at any time. This leads to significant gains in productivity by allowing employees to communicate more effectively and increasing their mobility.
The cost-saving potential of UC is well-proven. When businesses integrate their communications into a unified system, it leads to better employee productivity and therefore increased sales, the elimination of unnecessary fees associated with legacy systems, and the prevention of obsolescence if using a cloud-based system that is periodically upgraded with new features.
Unified Communications systems give project stakeholders the ability to seamlessly collaborate in real-time wherever they are. Teams can become more responsive, solve problems more quickly, increase their mobility and flexibility, better engage with clients, and sharply reduce the risk of technical issues.
In the digital age, data security is one of the greatest organizational concerns for many businesses and institutions. UC security features include data encryption across networks, preventing sensitive information from being intercepted by malicious third parties. Moreover, trusted cloud-based UC providers house their systems in secure hosting facilities with highly redundant and safe infrastructure.
No matter if your telephony platform consists of a PBX in a back closet, or a cloud-based system like Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business, security is of paramount importance.
Recent evolution in the marketplace has added additional security hurdles for businesses. The rise of the remote worker has resulted in an explosion of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) challenges. From business travelers to home office workers, the best and brightest all have their favorite communication tools. The problem becomes unifying these tools so that everyone is using the same solution, while meeting the compliance standards of your business and industry.
A UC solution should offer integrations for all communication platforms: desk phones, mobile devices, email, instant messaging, etc. Also important are centralized administration and levels of permissions/control for individual groups within the organization. These features are often essential in order to meet enterprise and industry security regulations and requirements (like HIPAA and Europe’s new GDPR law).
The Value of UC Technology
Regardless of their industry, most companies at the enterprise level have undergone mergers and acquisitions, relocations, and business expansions into new locations. A common side effect of these shifts and growth is a proliferation of differing telephony platforms and vendors within the same company. These communications technologies are seldom compatible.
Most enterprises are typically faced with two options:
- Rip out the old systems and replace them with a new platform
- Continue to limp along with separate, isolated communications systems
Fortunately, there is actually third option: find a highly interoperable UC solution, one that allows businesses to extend the life of their current telephony infrastructure investments while adding new features and centralizing administration for the entire system. In other words, unifying the company’s existing UC & telephony solutions into a cohesive whole that can grow into the latest features and even (if desired) the Cloud.
Discover how your organization can benefit from a highly interoperable UC platform. Speak with an expert today about which solutions that meet your specific business needs.