Beginner’s Guide to Unified Communications

Deciding to make the switch from a plain old telephone system to a robust unified communications network, wherein everything is managed under the same umbrella, is a change that will take your professional communications to another level. The only problem is, well, it can be a bit confusing! It’s not immediately apparent which services are available through unified communications and which are not.

To simplify the process, we’ve broken unified communications down into what Gartner has said are the 6 primary components which should be included in any initial packaged offering.

Elements of a Unified Communications System

Telephony/Voice

Just like VoIP (voice over IP) systems, vendors looked to take other forms of communications and make them internet based. This includes multiple devices such as smartphones and tablets making it easier for your employees to bring their own devices and still stay plugged into the organization.

Messaging

Voicemail, fax transmissions and text messaging all fall under the messaging category. Consolidating these communication mediums into a service which can deliver them to you anywhere at any time through your desktop or smart device is a huge added perk to UC.

Instant Messaging

IM doesn’t necessarily belong in the “messaging” category as, unlike voicemail or faxes, IM is meant to take place in real time. Incorporating instant messaging into your unified communications portfolio enables you to not only quickly communicate with employees and coworkers, but it also is a means of keeping tabs on one another. You’d be able to establish another’s location and availability, unlike traditional stand-alone IM’ing systems.

Single Interfacing Software

The software associated with various unified communications services makes it simple to utilize all available components of your network. Software is generally available through your browser with an onsite application available for hardware install as well. This makes managing your unified network through a single sign on system a breeze.

Conferencing

Conferencing services packaged in your UC system can vary between vendors. Some vendors will require that you install specialized hardware but many of them are totally web-based. The benefits of a web-based conferencing system is that employees can use the cameras on their laptops, computers or personal devices to join meetings “face to face”. Not to mention the ability to plug in from virtually anywhere on the globe. Several solutions also offer the ability to share your screen, documents and even give full on presentations from within the system.

Integrated Applications

Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of a fully built out UC is its ability to integrate an organization’s applications into itself. This can include email, CRM’s, and other local applications needed to carry out your daily operations.

Why You Should Make the Switch

The benefits of a well-oiled unified communications system are many. Employees can connect from home or while on business trips increasing your workforce’s overall productivity. Also, increased mobility makes it possible for employees to practically be in two places at once—on a road trip to visit customers while also partaking in regularly scheduled office meetings.

Creating a technological environment in which you can reduce costs, increase workplace efficiency, and ultimately provide better services to your customers are all benefits you can look forward to after upgrading to a unified communications platform. Are you ready to make the switch? Contact us to get a quote for your business. 

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