Why Unified Communications (UC)?
Effective internal communication is vital to the success of your business in many ways. It strengthens employee engagement and promotes your company’s values and goals. It also drives productivity by enhancing collaboration between employees. Finally, it reduces the chance of conflict by fostering greater transparency and mutual understanding among workers.
But a successful communications strategy begins with choosing the right technology and tools that match your unique business goals and budget.
A 2021 Pulse/InterVision survey found that 67% of IT teams spend anywhere from 6 to 20 hours a week managing their communication solutions. And half of the companies reported spending up to 40% of their annual IT budget supporting them.
The marketplace has been moving toward a “hybrid” work model, where employees work offsite at least part of the time. But the recent COVID pandemic has accelerated this trend. Businesses adapted to this new paradigm by migrating to Unified Communications (UC) platforms to keep their offsite workers connected and productive. Many experts believe this employment model will continue into the foreseeable future, so UC must keep evolving to meet the needs of the marketplace.
Unified Communications’ suite of digital and technological tools are designed to help consolidate and streamline a company’s internal communications from a variety of devices and locations. Some large businesses can afford to develop and maintain their own in-house UC platforms. But many small and mid-sized businesses need a more affordable option, so cloud-based solutions, such as those offered from companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco, Microsoft, or 8×8, are appealing.
Three Main Components of UC
Regardless of the underlying technology options, a UC suite typically has three main components: Voice Calling, Messaging, and Web Conferencing.
Business phone systems typically offer standard features such as voicemail, call transferring, three-way calling, and call holding. Since the mid 1990’s, companies began moving away from the traditional, hard-wired telephone networks to an Internet-based solution called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
VoIP systems are less costly than a traditional phone service while still giving employees access to the same features. A VoIP network may utilize an on-premise ethernet connection or may operate entirely in the cloud as “Cloud Calling.” A Cloud Calling VoIP system provides employees with a virtual phone number that they can access remotely through their cell phone, tablet or computer. It essentially turns any device with internet access into a potential telephone.
Business email and direct messaging systems have been in use for years, but when bundled through a UC platform, employees can more easily access their company email from any location that has internet service. Additionally, messaging and chat applications help foster more efficient communication when employees can’t speak live, but need specific information or opinions on a subject. Employees can also use direct messaging to gain visibility of their co-worker’s online status.
While only 8% of employees say that direct messaging is their preferred method communication, 43% use it regularly for work applications. And it is likely to become more common as businesses continue to expand a fully remote or hybrid workforce.
The third component of a UC system is web or video conferencing. Web conferencing is vital to group meetings large or small. While teleconferencing has been around for decades, a video conference gives participants visibility to charts, diagrams or other visual information being presented. It also allows presenters to share their own computer screen with the group. Additionally, most web conferencing platforms, such as Cisco Webex, enable participants to use a sidebar chat function to submit questions to the group or send messages privately to individuals during the conference.
Finding the right solution
Trying to understand all the characteristics and capabilities of a UC system can get confusing. There are so many choices available that deciding which UC platform to pursue can be a daunting task. InterVision has been helping businesses find the right communication and technology solutions for more than 25 years. Our consultants help you navigate the complex jungle of options to find a solution that will meet your needs, both now and into the future. Contact us today.