The business benefits of adopting Unified Communications

Monday, 04 November 2013

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Unified communications systems are scalable solutions that can be implemented in a variety of business environments (contact centres, SMEs, Enterprises, GP practices etc.) to provide payoffs for companies large or small. At the simplest level, unified communications (UC) add value by improving productivity; however the greatest returns come from integrating the technology into business applications throughout the company. This approach transforms workflow by introducing business capabilities and combining resources in a way that is only possible with UC systems.

What is UC?
The premise of UC is the ability for anyone to send and receive information in real-time, on any media. In the early days of UC, systems covered telephone, voicemail, email and fax. More latterly, instant messaging, video and web services have been included within UC platforms. The main measure of effectiveness for these systems is their ability to reduce the time it takes for messages to transmit through the system and reach the recipient, reducing inactivity.

A key tool of UC is presence detection (or presence awareness) which is the ability to see the availability of other users – be they within the same building, working remotely, or on the move. This feature enables employees to collaborate during the working day, regardless of location. The interactive directory permits any combination of voice, text, file, or video information exchange within a period of a few minutes. For example, a customer service representative can answer a caller’s technical question immediately by contacting a specialist who happens to be travelling. Eliminating delays such as ‘phone tag' (when individuals, attempting to contact each other by phone, repeatedly trade messages) provides customers with exceptional response times that improve efficiency within the organisation.

Bring your own device (BYOD) and UC
This growing trend, which encompasses Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT), Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) and Bring Your Own PC (BYOPC), encourages company employees to work on the device they choose. An employee’s mobile device may well be newer and more advanced than the equipment deployed by many IT departments (!) so it's hardly surprising that the rapid adoption of lightweight tablets, iPads and large-screened phones are changing the way that people want to work.

As UC solutions adapt to support this growing trend, integration and security issues that existed in its infancy no longer need to be a headache for IT departments. With applications such as ShoreTel Mobility, which uses encryption and authentication techniques and Sophos mobile control software, data stored on mobile devices can be protected and even ‘wiped’, if the device is lost or stolen.

Key business benefits of introducing UC
A VoIP system offers capabilities unavailable in older, traditional PBX-based systems, such as mobility, voicemail transcribed via text or email, and video chat. Combine this increased functionality with the versatility of UC and you’ll see significant improvements in performance, business processes and customer service. Offering fast and versatile message handling via phone, email, smartphone, tablet, IM, and fax; UC can consolidate operations that are currently limited by communications gaps. Furthermore, the ability to communicate through any device (PC, mobile phone, or tablet) provides ultimate flexibility.

When an organisation adopts a UC system, the company sees improvements in three key areas:

  • Communications
  • Operational efficiency
  • Collaborative abilities

  • Increased productivity
    IT management is simplified with a comprehensive UC system. Intuitive interfaces, familiar administrative tools, and centralised directory controls reduce maintenance costs, improve efficiency and increase employee productivity.

    Work-related collaboration, regardless of where employees are located or the devices they use, offers further business savings through:

  • Streamlined communications via single, familiar clients; such as smartphone, desktop, laptop or tablet
  • Web conferencing for real-time connections
  • Anytime/anywhere video and audio conferencing to drive productivity and business processes
  • Improved employee mobility/elimination of commuting time for virtual employees

  • Reduced running costs
    Business savings with a UC system include:

  • Low-cost ‘moves, adds, and changes’ capabilities for new and remote users
  • Reduced PSTN long-distance calling costs and mobile network charges
  • Elimination of third-party conferencing costs

  • When making a purchasing decision, buyers should look not only at its purchase price, but also at its long-term price, known as the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The item with the lowest TCO will be the better value in the long run. There are many components to assessing the TCO, which can be categorised into the following areas:

  • Upfront capital expenditure (cost of equipment)
  • Upfront operational costs (administrator and end-user training)
  • UC system operating costs (maintenance, software upgrades, system changes, moves and add-ons)
  • On-going network costs (SIP, power, unplanned downtime)
  • Enhanced operational costs (staff productivity, collaborative working, increased sales/satisfaction)

  • Speak to Incom Business Systems about your UC needs
    Moving to UC is inevitable for most companies, if only to maintain their competitive stature. Companies of all sizes can gain from "anywhere, anytime" communications. Receiving messages and data promptly, no matter where you are, drives faster, informed decisions. As more workers spend increasing amounts of time away from company offices, being able to instantly reach the right person will impress customers and give your business a competitive edge.

    Incom Business Systems works with many of the leading telecoms manufacturers including ShoreTel whose systems are recognised as providing the lowest TCO in the telecoms industry*.

    Speak to our experts today and let us help you identify your business pain points and operational objectives for UC adoption. Whether you’re looking to blend with existing infrastructure, as a cost-effective route to rolling out UC across your business, or you’re in a position to replace your existing systems; we’ll work with you to identify the best solution to serve your business - now and long into the future.

    With over 24 years spent at the leading edge of the business communications industry, our team is made up of highly skilled individuals. Incom provides one bill, one supplier and one point of contact for everything from telephone systems and data networks to line rental, call charges and business mobile.

    Call us today on 0161 788 0000 to discuss how we can help you implement UC capabilities whilst reducing your costs, increasing business productivity and improving sales performance.

    *The TCO benchmarking study for UC - The Aberdeen Group 2012


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