No matter the size of your business, we bet you’re walking a tightrope to keep budgets in check and still meet the demands for increasing efficiencies and responding to customer needs. You may have even seen your IT budget rise as you try to keep up with all of the new programs and software for phones, project management, communication and collaboration.

If you’ve been in business for a while, you’re probably feeling a little frustrated. But, believe it or not, it’s possible to simplify your systems and save your money. We have a solution for you: unified communications.

What are Unified Communications?
Unified communications (UC) involves a set of products that provide a consistent, ‘unified’ user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types. Many organizations are already using various independent elements of a UC solution, such as VoIP (Voice over IP) or specific features like presence of find me/follow me. However, UC is about integrating these elements with the right product suites to create a more complete solution that brings efficiency and cost savings to business processes.

Unified communications (UC) refers to the integration of communication tools that help people exchange ideas and do their jobs more effectively.

This definition from PC Mag can help you visualize how it works:
“[UC is] the real-time redirection of a voice, text or e-mail message to the device closest to the intended recipient at any given time. For example, voice calls to desk phones could be routed to the user’s cellphone when required. E-mail intended for a desktop mailbox could be sent to the user’s PDA or turned into speech for a phone message.”

Benefits of UC Solutions for Businesses

  • Connect a remote and mobile workforce: See if another colleague is in a meeting, on the phone, or where they are geographically on a map. Then, check their calendar, link them with a customer or vendor, and track the entire interaction without ever hearing a dial. Whether you’re in a cubicle, a home office, or on the road, UC makes it easy to stay connected from anywhere on any device.
  • Communicate more effectively: Use any computing device from anywhere in the world and connect to your company phone system without long distance charges. Instant message coworkers, listen to voice mail, or send and receive video calls in a seamless unified interface. Make your mobile device an extension of your corporate network to keep everyone productive, no matter where they are.
  • Reduce your OpEx costs: UC can save you money! Think about all of the one-off fees you’re paying for separate project management, collaboration, video conferencing, or cloud storage platforms. What if they could all be bundled in just a handful of powerful product suites designed to work together? In assessing the right system for each unique client, we often identify ways to reduce OpEx costs and ensure software licensing, upgrades or other ‘extras’ are all cost-effective and appropriate for your needs. Or, we may find you have hidden features in programs you’re already paying for that you’re not capitalizing on.
  • Improve your customer service: Are email and a traditional one-to-one dial tone phone call your only customer service platforms? It’s time to step up your game. The right UC solution can improve your customers’ telecommunications experience with your business. Some potential features available include call queues, incoming call data, easy routing to the right employee, and seamless integration with soft station features such as VoIP and screen or file sharing.

How to Assess a UC Solution for your Business
At StoredTech, we help our clients assess several things when looking for a UC solution that’s right for them.

First, we’ll work to understand the features your team needs for success, such as routing voicemail to email, call forwarding, or single-number reach (Avaya phones, etc.).

Then, we’ll utilize our long-standing vendor relationships to select a companion system that allows you to integrate calendars, scheduling, online file collaboration, or video conferencing (Microsoft Office 365, Skype for Business, etc.).

In the review of what’s right for you, the element we’re most concerned about is the ability for your system to scale. We want your investment to last, thus it’s critical that you have the capability to add or remove components such as software, accessories, applications and more as you evolve and change. While you may not need all that a UC system can bring to you today when your company hits that growth spurt, you’ll be grateful you had the foresight to work with a trusted IT advisor to design a scalable solution.

The Nuts and Bolts You Need to Start a Conversation
Change isn’t easy, and UC can feel like a hurdle for some companies. To help you kickstart the conversation in your organization, we’ve boiled it down into a few ‘must know’ messages.

  • UC can connect a remote workforce, improve communication and collaboration, reduce OpEx costs, and enhance customer service opportunities.
  • With UC, you can seamlessly integrate everything from instant messaging, calendars, and secure email to SMS messaging, audio/video conferencing, and screen sharing.
  • UC isn’t a new topic – if you’re using VoIP, Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365, or any cloud-based application you’re already part of the way there. But, if you’re paying for these tools for some employees but not all, upgrading one-by-one, or signing up for monthly subscriptions you’re not really sure about…you’re probably wasting money. UC means finding a suite of products and integrations that reduce your bills and enhance your capabilities.

Businesses of all sizes are discovering the benefits of unified communications solutions that extend the capabilities of the tools and programs they’re already using. Think beyond the office desktop and conventional dial tone, and consider the taking a step that could make your IT system a competitive advantage for your business.

Talk to an IT Advisor today and we can assess the untapped potential your company has in unified communications.