Unified communications for business can be a game changer. Effective business communication systems enable greater knowledge sharing, foster teamwork, and make collaboration more efficient.
A unified communications (UC) solution goes even further. By combining all your communication tools — including mobile devices, internet, local networks, telephone systems, and video conferencing — into one solution, you can simplify communications and collaboration within your business, boost productivity, and reduce costs.
Because a UC solution will impact almost every aspect of your business, it's important to assess your needs before adopting the technology. When you overlook key considerations, you risk having a negative impact on productivity and creating, rather than solving, communication bottlenecks.
Here are five important steps to follow as you begin your UC journey.
1. Identify Your Business Needs
As a first step, figure out why you need a technology solution. Understanding the problem you're trying to solve, the outcomes you expect to achieve, and how you'll measure results is paramount to ensuring you select a solution that adds value to your business.
Say your company recently expanded to multiple sites, making internal collaboration more difficult with remote and disconnected employees. You want teams to be able to share content, hold virtual meetings, and connect in real time. With that goal in mind, you can determine what technological capabilities you require, like video conferencing with screen-sharing features, instant messaging, and an ability for employees to connect from any device, anywhere. Once you've identified your specific business needs, you can find a solution, such as a unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) platform, that provides the right functionalities for your organization.
2. Evaluate the Solution's Reliability
When your business depends on responsive communications, you need to feel confident you'll have the reliability to avoid downtime. A cloud-based UCaaS solution can address this need.
Unlike an on-premises solution, where your IT department shoulders the responsibility for reliability, a cloud-based solution is managed by a vendor who provides ongoing maintenance and upgrades, and guarantees uptimes as part of your service-level agreement. This frees up IT to focus on more strategic priorities and provides peace of mind.
Unified communications for business offers the potential to eliminate communication silos, increase knowledge sharing and collaboration, and boost productivity.
3. Assess the Solution's Scalability
It's also important to think long term about your needs and business growth. If a tool works for a 50-person company, will it still improve productivity when the company employs 200 people? 500 people?
A UCaaS solution allows for scalability and flexibility in a cost-effective manner. With pay-as-you-need pricing, you pay only for the services that you need, while maintaining the ability to increase or decrease your user levels or business locations without having to deal with the complexity or cost of scaling. With this kind of flexibility, your organization can avoid the productivity bottleneck that often comes with scaling — and save money in the process.
4. Look for Easy Integration
Because communications almost always involves other technologies, like when you use your CRM to access customer information or when you collaborate with colleagues on a spreadsheet, you need to assess how the solution you implement integrates with your business's other technologies. If your UC solution provides seamless integration with your CRM, for example, you can then easily send SMS message reminders about appointments to customers or use click-to-dial capabilities to directly call customers. These types of integrations reduce complexity for everyone and increase productivity across the business by giving employees more time to spend on strategic tasks.
5. Adopt Wisely
Unified communications for business offers the potential to eliminate communication silos, increase knowledge sharing and collaboration, and boost productivity. A user-friendly solution allows employees to communicate in their preferred manner and gives them the flexibility to collaborate anywhere at any time. Organizations that choose these kinds of tools will no doubt foster quicker adoption than businesses who select their tools piecemeal.
There's a lot to think about when it comes to selecting and implementing unified communications for business. But the value real-time communications can add to your business is worth it.