A Guide to Unified Communications

Mike Mead

13/11/2018

Unified Communications, or Unified Comms, has been around for a fair while now. It’s still not reached household status yet so you can forgive yourself for not knowing Unified Comms inside out.

We see rapid adoption of Unified Comms, all over the business world, on a day to day basis. Driven by employees or employers, businesses want the productivity gains associated with Unified Comms, and they want it now.

So, by clicking this article, you’re in good company.

 

What is Unified Communications?

If you look up the definition of Unified Communications, you’ll get something like this.

A combination of enterprise communication services such as instant messaging, presence information, voice, mobility conferencing, desktop sharing, data sharing and messaging services.

What we’ve done here is summarised various lengthy definitions and still come up with a real mouthful.

For the non-techy, Unified Communications is finding the right combination of communication tools that you need to make your business flow.

 

Common Features

The number of features available is in the thousands so we’ve highlighted some mission critical Unified Comms features:

  • Presence: users have control of their availability; either available, busy, away, offline or automatically synced from your Outlook calendar
  • Instant Messaging (IM): if you need something quickly but don’t need to make a call, send a message that will pop up on your colleague’s screen for them to respond to. You can even send emojis and documents
  • Unified Messaging: voicemails and missed IMs can be delivered either to your email or to your visual voicemail and easily managed and responded to
  • Call Recording: record all or ad hoc calls that can be played back at any time. You don’t even need to download them as streaming is part and parcel
  • Virtual Meetings: be it audio, video or sharing your PowerPoint presentation, travelling to meetings is a thing of the past
  • Video Calling: sometimes talking doesn’t get the message across. The power of video, mannerisms and expressions make a calls a hundred times more impactful

 

Business Benefits

It’s easy to get into a features and functionality conversation when discussing Unified Comms and rightly so. From simple to complex, there’s loads of great stuff to talk about when engineering a Unified Communications solution.

But, where Unified Comms really comes into its own, is when business benefits are realised.

Productivity:

  • Users no longer need to waste time calling colleagues and leaving voicemails – they know if someone is online and available by checking their presence
  • Time isn’t wasted emailing documents and creating new versions over and over as more people have input to the project
  • Meetings become efficient, with content sharing the central point rather than the conference phone
  • Video conferencing saves time commuting between meetings that could be either end of the country

Cost:

  • “As a Service” models enable customers to only pay for what they use – no overusage or license uplift
  • Unified Comms are scalable so if you need to add 50 users for 6 months, you can. There are no physical phone lines to be installed so you can add and remove as you go
  • Opex over Capex, traditionally Unified Comms services are billed monthly, just like your broadband or mobile, so there’s no large upfront costs

Environmental:

  • According to George Mason University, driving to a meeting one hour away uses just as much electrical power as up 1,000 hours of web conferencing
  • The average work spends 2 hours a day commuting when they could be working remotely

 

FAQs

I already have a phone system, isn’t this the same thing?

Yes. But, with so many benefits added on. Your phone system enables voice calling with some PBX functionality. This was all businesses needed 20 years ago. But time has moved on. It is no longer acceptable to spend money on basic functionality when business changing solutions are available for the same price.

 

Can I really trust cloud technology?

You don’t need to trust cloud technology. You just need to understand it. And it’s really not as hard as you think. “The Cloud” is really just a host of super secure equipment, powered by people that know what they’re doing. The trust is instilled by service level agreements in place with any cloud provider.

How do I know what I need to buy?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. This is where our Unified Communications Engineers come in handy. Every business is different and everybody within that business is different. Contact us today to schedule a visit and we walk you through what we can do for you.