Unified Communications: Why everybody’s doing it, and how you should too

Posted on January 7, 2014 by

When Unified Communications came on the scene a few years back, everyone expected the technology to spread faster than rumors after an office Holiday party. These days most of the buzz around Unified Communications is all about how much it didn’t catch on nearly as fast as the pundits prophesied. But if facts are facts (and they are) that lag is turning around.


Unified Communications is the future

According to TechNavio, adoption of Unified Communications as a business tool is expected to increase by 15.85% annually through 2016. The result is roughly a 50% increase in companies that are leaping ahead of the competition thanks to a more tightly woven communications arsenal. (Learn more about that growth here.)

TelecomReseller says the adoption of UC tools can show businesses an ROI of 104%, claiming SMBs with 100 employees can save up to 191 hours each day by implementing the right UC system.

Easy connections win

Unified Communications is all about collaboration, device and protocol irrelevance, and crafting process efficiencies out of a tangled mess of nonintersecting lines. It’s about connecting anywhere, on any device, on any network. To achieve that end, there is a really, really, really big list of features you can add to your system.

There is no standard realization of what Unified Communications means. But let’s take a look at the features you absolutely need to reap the full benefit of your UC and why.

Voicemail/fax to email: Keep all of your contacts and documents in one place. Amalgamating your incoming emails, faxes, and voicemails saves a mountain of time sorting through multiple silos of information to track down that one proposal you received three and a half months ago.

Presence: This feature (knowing someone’s availability) was all the rage when it first came into practice. But it seemed unnecessary because people would just ping someone anyway and see if they’d respond. There is benefit to knowing whether someone you’re trying to reach is available or not. Presence helps users avoid wasting time trying to contact someone who isn’t available and can point them in the direction of someone who is instead.

Instant messaging: Apparently, 73 percent of business calls go to voicemail. That means 73 percent of calls that are returned also go to voicemail. And that means connecting by telephone isn’t always efficient. If an employee has a quick question, instant messaging integrated within your organizational contact list allows them to quickly communicate with one another while keeping interruption to a minimum.

Integrated audio/web conferencing: Make collaboration easy. The modern workforce is mobile, and often geographically dispersed. Conferencing connects project teams easily and avoids disjointed conversations executed in legs relaying what he said and she said. Your own in-house conferencing tools lets your people build conferences on the fly, as needed rather than waiting for third party bridges to be scheduled.

Call grabbing: We’ve all experienced those whirlwind workdays running from our desk to somewhere across town, and then to a lunch, and then somewhere else after that. CAll grabbing enables the transfer of calls from device to device on the fly. And that means no more stretching your desk phone cord out the door as you struggle to end one call and get to your next meeting on time.

Find Me/Follow Me: Because you’re on the move, it’d be helpful to know those crucial calls will find you, rather than hoping callers dial the phone you’re closest to right now. Instead, all your phones can ring at once, or in succession as programed. It goes the other way too, when you’re trying to reach your boss for last minute approval.

SIP-based platform: You need to ensure the solution you select is non-proprietary and based on open standards, such as SIP. Otherwise, your system may not be compatible with future deployments and add ons. A system based on SIP protocols can use any device from any vendor that complies with this standard. You gain a whole lot more flexibility and the ability to work and grow more cost effectively.

Click to call: The ability to connect with any contact by clicking on their information eliminates the dial process and smooths the connection process. WebRTC is quickly becoming a major means of communication by allowing people to reach out through their web browser. Get used to it now before you’re the company no one can talk to because their communications still require a dial pad.

Disaster routing: Stuff happens. Networks fail. Equipment quits. Connections get up and walk away. Make sure your system has a plan in place when disaster strikes. Disaster, or failover routes will get calls through even when your system’s not working.

According to Logicalis, more vice presidents of sales, CEOs, CIOs and even CFOs are now saying they must have unified communications to stay ahead of their competition because of the way the technology can enhance the overall customer experience, streamline collaboration, and create massive process efficiencies.

With all the competitive advantages afforded by UC, this is one case where if everyone else is doing it, you’d better jump on that bandwagon too.