What is Unified Communications?
Telephone, Internet, Video Chats, Instant Messaging … modern Business Communication is now a multi-channel experience – involving various endpoints from numerous vendors all with different platforms. Today’s workplace is global, with work being done anywhere with internet access and businesses need to be able to adapt. That means, coping with our increasingly mobile world where work is no longer confined to the office, but done from home and when offsite or travelling. To be successful businesses must look beyond just voice communication and more to the point find a way to combine all their communications channels into a single platform, i.e. Unified Communications (UC).
Modern UC solutions provide businesses with a communications hub that combines a plethora of communications tools; voice, fax, video, presence technology, messaging (chat / instant messaging), file transfers, external data sources and audio conferencing / virtual meeting rooms. Furthermore, UC solutions not only deliver the tools, but also support businesses regain control over there IT infrastructure. Managing and configuring multiple endpoint vendors and incorporating BYOD / CYOD mobile device strategies can be a massive headache for IT administrators, making endpoint management an essential component of any Unified Communications solutions.
Proprietary Solutions Just For Large Enterprise?
For many small businesses, the concept UC solutions belongs to the world of Larger Enterprise or may seem over the top or simply too expensive. They may sit there thinking, we are too small, we do not need to streamline our business communication and so on. While this may once have been the case, it no longer is. Businesses need to adapt to the demands of their customers in order to thrive, otherwise they risk falling by the wayside.
But its not all doom and gloom – the emergence of the software based phone system (IP PBX) has opened up the world of Unified Communications beyond the realm of large enterprise. As a result, telephony software solutions are becoming increasingly more attractive. For many businesses, particularly SMEs, such solutions have become a valuable cost saving resource and provide excellent scalability along with numerous other business benefits.
Further to this, the trend towards Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions such as a hosted PBX solution has further reduced the barriers for small businesses. In the case of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), small businesses no longer need to burden themselves with unnecessary capital expenditure, but can rather benefit from spreading the costs on a monthly / quarterly or annual basis.
Unified Communication Features
The Unified Communications landscape consists of a number of technologies and endpoints all integrated into a centralised communications hub to enable more effective communication and collaboration. Through deploying and utilising UC tools, it is worth noting that traditional communication lines will become blurred, with communication now taking place over the user’s preferred medium.
Delving under the hood, you’ll find that top of the range UC solutions provide companies with a diverse selection of features encompassing (but not limited to):
- Chat / Instant Messaging
- Presence technology
- Team collaboration tools
- File Transfers
- IP Endpoints, i.e. desktop VoIP phones, CTI apps, mobile apps and softphones
- Audio Conferencing / Virtual Meeting Rooms
- Directory Services, i.e. CRM, Address book integration etc
The list could go on and not every vendor is equal. Some phone system vendors offer UC tools or mobile UC tools via 3rd party applications. Others charge extra for UC add-ons and some UC solutions are just that – UC apps that deliver collaboration tools such as chat but do not incorporate phone system functions such as Queues.
Unified Communications describes streamlining and optimising business communication processes to promote internal collaborate and support businesses in creating excellent customer experiences.
By choosing a UC phone system vendor such as pascom, business owners and IT admins can rest assured that not only is every single featured included in the price, so to is the ongoing maintenance and vendor support, ensuring that the UC services remain up-to-date and that technical assistance is readily available should any be required.