Unified Communications- What does it mean

Prakash Kolekar, Delivery Head, Invenio Business Solutions | Thursday, 17 March 2016, 04:56 IST

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Companies of all sizes across domains are increasingly being challenged to beat tight operational schedules and meet customer demands. Business communication is fast becoming a driving force to achieve this and has thus undergone huge change.

To be on the top, organizations today have to seamlessly integrate its typical business processes with real-time communication such as instant messaging/chat via mobiles, telephony/VoIP and video conferencing and non-real-time communications such as e-mail, voicemail, SMS text message and fax.

Gartner’s definition of UC this year captures the true essence of the term. It reads as, “The primary goal of Unified Communications (UC) is to improve user productivity and to enhance business processes.” Gartner defines UC products (equipment, software and services) as those that facilitate the use of multiple enterprise communications methods to obtain that goal.

Identifying if your business needs a UC

Unified communications is no doubt a staple requirement in today’s business community.

Below are the tentative indicators that can signal when your business is ready for a communications upgrade:

Employees do not use their desk phones

Corporate worker’s 10 to 15 years ago, knew what was it like being chained to your desk simply because desk phone were the only means of communication. One had to wait for an incoming call or have access to the phone. Now, however, times have vastly changed.

Need to connect remote workforce via mobility

In today’s fast moving world, there is an increasing need for remote employees to access the same phone system features, whether working form a desktop or a mobile device.

An office is just about anywhere you need it to be. Implementing a UC solution, it makes it easy to stay connected to customers and prospects, from any location, from any device.

It also provides flexibility in managing off-site employees in different geographies following different time zones using features like presence and conferencing, and having additional monitoring capabilities.

An Enterprise is expanding business or moving location

Whenever a company moves to a different location or expands by simply adding a new branch office why extend an outdated legacy system when you can install the latest and greatest UC platform?

Adding UC at this time would help reduce expenses and boost productivity throughout the enterprise.

The Challenges Faced

Although UC systems can enable increased cooperation, collaboration and productivity across an enterprise, there are a few challenges with its deployment. Let's take a look at some of the issues with a UC deployment, and how companies can address these problems within their organizations:

1) Initial Deployment

Many enterprises may already have a legacy system in place. When this needs to be upgraded, the business might be faced with the worrying prospect of completely replacing their current system with something new. This could not only present financial challenges but also challenges for users who are unfamiliar with the system, but for the IT department as well, which is charged with making the switch.

Thankfully, there are solution providers that offer UC systems that are able to integrate with existing technologies to ensure a robust initial investment and a full ROI.

2) Accessing Office systems from outside of office

Another challenge business increasingly sees today, is the rising need for accessing the UC and other systems from outside of the office.

According to research from World at Work, in 2013 an estimated 44 million people operated from a location other than the company's office at least once a year. This number has been ever growing.

Which means one thing for UC technology: It must be accessible both on the company's premises and other locations in order to ensure that employees working from home or on the move can connect with the resources they need.

One way to address this challenge is with a cloud-based UC system that can enable any authorized user to access the platform from any location with an Internet connection. This means if employees want to operate from their home offices or are travelling, they can still communicate and collaborate with their colleagues.

So where to start? A thoughtful implementing strategy will ensure successful deployment. It also goes a long way to eliminate obstacles. One should start by examining your business needs and determine what is your organization’s primary communication method; eg. email, phone, chat, etc. This will help identify the correct partner for implementing UC.

As with most worthwhile ventures, there is no quick fix or short cut to implementing UC. In order for any organization to fully realize the benefits, the UC system must be User accepted, Intuitive and User friendly in order to push for its total adoption.

Leveraging experts and technology partners to provide insight and recommend the appropriate features needed for your organization will prove invaluable and have a positive impact on the
bottom line.

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