You’ve probably heard about unified communications (UC) before.
But why are your competitors and other organisations moving towards centralised comms platforms?
What are the benefits?
ISDN’s days are numbered
Chances are your existing office switchboard uses an ISDN line to make and receive calls. Although this technology was the industry standard for decades, it’s now considered too slow and limited for modern business demands.
More importantly, ISDN is being phased out by telecoms operators; it’s due to be fully retired by 2025.
The successor technology, IP SIP, is more scalable, cost-effective and flexible, better able to meet the changing needs of your business – and delivers a much better experience for you and your customers.
Traditional comms solutions are inefficient
Business communications have evolved in a number of different directions. The humble telephone has been joined by email, SMS, video conferencing, instant messaging, social media and document collaboration (among others).
All this choice is great news for customers – and a headache for you. Many businesses have tried to accommodate client demands for new channels by bolting together various different apps and services. But the multi-tool approach not only increases management overheads, it fails to offer a seamless way to switch customers between channels or to capture details of each interaction.
As the name implies, unified communications not only extends the number of channels available to your team, it also unifies them.
Everything is available through one interface so you can easily route between channels – and nothing falls through the gaps.
You’re probably spending more than you need to
It’s highly likely that your organization is spending more than it should on phone bills. Factor in call costs, the costs of managing and maintaining an older phone network, additional messaging and conferencing services and the problem only worsens.
By centralising your communications channels, UC dramatically simplifies the process of managing them all. And because it’s built on SIP technology, calls and line rental are dramatically cheaper than your existing ISDN system.
Company growth may be restricted
Using new communication tools also allows you to change the way you do business. Any time, any place comms means that your employees are no longer tied to their desks for instance, making it much easier to offer them flexible working arrangements. They can collaborate more both when in the office and away, which is great for boosting productivity.
Additionally, as your business grows you can attract the best caliber of candidates because you’re no longer tied to the local geographical region. The same is true of opening branch offices across the country, or even internationally.
All opportunities that are just impossible to realise with a traditional ISDN-based PBX.
Five tips for choosing the right unified communications platform
1. UC is not just about telephones
A unified comms platform offers telephony services – and more. As you consider potential products, make sure you investigate whether the platform also supports collaboration.
2. Calculate bandwidth requirements carefully
Some unified communications platforms are hosted in the cloud, taking care of issues such as infrastructure provisioning. But you still need a reliable connection between your office and the cloud to avoid potential quality of service issues.
Work with your UC partner to assess bandwidth requirements (present and future) and to ensure you have the appropriate connectivity. Don’t forget to assess connections for your branch offices and remote workers too.
3. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) provisioning
Virtually all of your employees already own a mobile device that they are fully familiar with. You can tap into their experience – and save a lot of money – by allowing them to use their own smartphone on the UC platform.
4. Security safeguards
In the age of GDPR you need to be sure that any data stored or accessed via your unified comms platform is properly secured. Otherwise, leak or loss of personal data could result in a significant fine that dwarfs the savings made by using unified communications. Not to mention the damage done to customer trust and brand loyalty.
5. Migrate and decommission
To realise maximum value from your investment, the unified communications platform must be the only channel you use with colleagues and clients. This means weaning employees away from the tools they have relied on the in the past – such as standalone instant messaging apps.
Understand whether you could benefit from switching to unified communications by using this instant online ROI calculator.
*Owen Davies is Head of Mid Market Sales at Gamma