Unified Communications – the lowdown

By | February 17, 2012

Companies of all shapes and sizes are continually looking to develop and streamline their operations, either through manpower, businesses processes or the effective use of technology.

The latter approach has never been higher on the agenda due to the multiple – and often fragmented – ways that staff communicate with each other, customers, partners and suppliers. Unified Communications is the solution to this problem.

Unified Communications is way of optimising business processes by combining and automating human and device communications through reducing time-delays, managing workflows, and eradicating device and media dependencies.

Various modes of communication which once sat in isolation, such as e-mail, calendars, telephony and directory services, can now be integrated to an exciting extent. Sounds great – but surely this is only something wealthy corporations can achieve? Not so – small businesses can now implement affordable tools with great success, leading to greater employee productivity, lower IT management costs and enhanced functionality.

Unified Communications consists of five key elements: Presence, Messaging, Instant Messaging, Conferencing and Software powered VoIP. Presence is a way of updating your availability in real-time, meaning people will only try and contact you when you’re free and ready. This cuts down on wasted attempts to make contact with individuals and helps with time management.

E-mail, fax, text messaging, voicemail, calendars and contact details can be brought together in a unified inbox via Messaging, allowing users to easily switch between different modes of communication without fiddly copying and pasting and opening and closing applications. Instant messaging enables internal colleagues or external partners to communicate quickly and securely in text format through computers or smart phones on a corporate network.

Conferencing helps businesses maintain a close relationship with employees, customers and partners – who could be spread across the globe – without the need to travel. Multiple individuals are able to interact either through audio-video conferencing or web conferencing. Software powered VoIP features communication over an IP network and can be integrated with e-mail, calendaring, voicemail, instant messaging and conferencing.

So why move towards Unified Communications? Well, there are many benefits for the individual user, departments, the business as a whole, customers and partners. Communication becomes vastly more efficient, as users no longer need to rely on their phones for voice communication or on their PC for e-mailing – everything can be achieved via one interface meaning valuable time is no longer wasted and greater productivity can be achieved.

Unified Messaging allows the user to access all types of message through a single inbox and calendars can also be manipulated by cancelling meetings or informing attendees of a late arrival. This remote access also allows users to efficiently work where and when convenient, with the same access to programs and information as in the office. This means geography is no longer an issue when recruiting staff, plus staff morale can increase as they will have more freedom to work from home.

Further benefits include reduced infrastructure and installation costs; easy administration, freeing up staff time and resulting in less need for training spend; the choice of an on-site or hosted platform; it’s fully secure and equipped to protect against viruses, spam and other malware; and it can enhance sustainability through less need for staff travel, minimising floor space and reducing systems and power requirements. So, what are you waiting for?

About the Guest Post Author: Leon Penny works for SynergyPlus. SynergyPlus is a trusted provider of telephony and technology solutions for businesses – for more information visit www.synergyplus.uk.com