What is Unified Communications and why should a business owner care?
Have you ever been frustrated by you inability to speak to an employee while in your car, or at home or at a client site? Do you find yourself wondering how you might be able to raise the engagement level between your colleagues and yourself? I often found myself wondering if my employees were on the phone or in a meeting. I thought that my ancient PBX was actually beginning to limit my company’s ability to meaningfully communicate. Small business phone systems have made huge strides in the last five years; in fact, small business phone systems don’t resemble their ancient ancestors at all.
A modern small business phone system can correct all of the problems I just described in a ten-year-old PBX. Using a new technology called Unified Communications an organization just like your company is able to seamlessly integrate, or unify, its typical business communications with both real-time communications (such as instant messaging, presence information (who in on the phone or in a meeting), telephony/VoIP (phone calls), voice mail and video conferencing and non real-time communications (such as e-mail, SMS texting and fax).
Okay I recognize that was a lot to digest, so lets break down Unified Communications into to smaller bite sized pieces so you can follow along and hopefully begin to see how Unified Communications could significantly help your small business improve collaboration between your employees, vendors and your customers!
Unified communications solves many of the legacy PBX shortfalls; lets take a look at just a few:
- Remember on your ancient PBX how you could only get your phone calls from your desk phone? Unified Communications can program a VoIP phone system to look for you on all of your preferred devices while your office phone is ringing. If it finds you somewhere out of the office, it will automatically transfer the call from your desk phone to your cell phone or home phone without the calling party realizing how or where you are taking the call from.
- By loading Unified Communications software on my iPhone, iPad, or Mac Book Air, all of these devices become extensions of my VoIP phone system, I can receive or make phone calls from any device any where in the world as if I am sitting oat my desk in my own office.
- Sometimes, I don’t really need to talk to someone but I want to text them a short message, with Unified Communications I can Instant Message my employees and we chat back-n-forth. The chats are also recorded as a log file for security’s sake.
- Remember how you could never tell if your employees are on the phone or in a meeting? By loading the unified communication software of your preferred device, you can see an employee’s status; are they at their desk, are they on the phone, or in a meeting or not signed on. You can even extend this feature out to your customers and vendors who are using VoIP systems and share this information between each phone system. I can instantly see if my vendor is able to speak to me before I call them.
- Have you ever been on a video conference call? Were you impressed how video can bring an additional dimension to our communications? Well when you deploy Unified Communications software on a device with a camera, you can instantly start video conference calls just by dialing a phone number. I can use my iPhone to videoconference right back and into my office. And it’s free because the data packets are going over the Internet.
These are just a small sub-set of what you can do with Unified Communications. Unified Communications software lets you be more productive, anytime, from anywhere on any device. Wherever you are, you can quickly and easily find people, see if and how they are available, and collaborate using instant messaging (IM), voice, high- definition video, voice messaging, desktop sharing, and conferencing. Unified Communication gives you the power to work your way, from any device and within the familiar applications and business processes you use every day.
Communications and collaboration are changing to be inherently more mobile, social, visual and virtual. Unified Communications delivers a collaborative experience from your preferred device (your desk phone, your cell phone, your tablet, or your laptop) that lets you be as productive when mobile as you are at your desk. Unified Communications software takes advantage of intelligence in your VoIP phone system to deliver secure, reliable, and high quality communications. You get a consistent experience across on-premises and cloud-based deployments—and Unified communications software utilizes industry standards to ensure interoperability across Cisco and with third-party solutions.
By combining a broader range of communications and features into a more complete Unified Communication solution and integrating it with your business processes, your small business is able to substantially increase its effectiveness – and cost savings. If you would like to learn more about Unified Communications ANP is hosting a webinar for small business owners to discuss VoIP phone systems and the business benefits of Unified Communications.