Unified Business Communications: 5 reasons why your business needs it

business unified communicationsUnified Business Communications

Unless you have had your head buried in the sand, it is more than likely that you will be familiar with IP-telephony, in the form of Skype, the low cost or free voice call platform. Unified communications, which expands on the IP-based platform, is now becoming bigger than ever in a business context thanks to the ever expanding communications mediums that go beyond the traditional phone line. The reason for increase in uptake is the ability to reduce business call costs and the ability to improve productivity, as one of Scotland’s leading suppliers of unified business communications and collaboration services, we will take a look of five of the main benefits that could help your business’ communications solutions.

Combination Power

As the name would imply, the ability to unify your communications to enable greater availability across a range of services (email, IM, voice calls, text and more) over multiple devices through telephony and business data on a network, voice, data and video information can be combined, thus saving each piece of data from being managed and compiled into separate chunks.

What’s more is, thanks to encryption,unified business communications software makes data being sent across networks far more secure and robust from being manipulated.

Productivity Hacks

Another great way UC software helps make things easier for information processing is by taking the headache out of employees having to manage and operate separate communication channels.

The fact that a worker can use a single phone number and a unified inbox across each of their communication devices speeds data handling up and makes effective decision making happen all the more faster too.

Advanced Functions

In the case of telephony, unified business communications software is more advanced than its more traditional counterparts too. Offering short-number dialling, that doesn’t require the use of area codes, multi-international businesses can run a lot smoother across countries and continents.

Call forwarding is another advanced function that appears as a benefit. The fact that forwarding can be made to various types of devices, while incoming calls can search for an idle extension, also positively impacts the overall day-to-day running of a communications-dependent business.

Inexpensive Calls

Given that calls are made over a digital network, unified business communications also offer more cost effective rates than traditional telecommunications systems. Combine that with video and data also being thrown into the package and it suddenly looks all the more beneficial too.

Billing is also more consistent too and less dependent on the fluctuating tariffs and on and off-peak charge rates that many traditional telecommunication companies employ.

Contact Management

Finally, UC can also make integrating a businesses extensive contact list a lot easier by providing a single, easily-accessible phone book. Accessible from all locations across a range of devices, this book can also be held on the central server and protected from mobile security issues that could effect devices.

Unified business communications, although widely recognised as being suitable for large organisations, might just be a good fit for a whole range of businesses. With benefits like those mentioned above, its advantages over traditional communication offerings are clear to see and only likely to grow wider thanks to future developments.

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About incovo

incovo is a business communications technology integrator of category leading unified communications, infrastructure, integrated network solutions and document management solutions to small and mid-sized organisations throughout the UK. Our focus is creating dependable, cost-effective business communications solutions for businesses that ensure a variety of methods of collaboration to meet the ever-changing market conditions.

At incovo, we provide fast and effective support to all of our customers through our multichannel support network – allowing our customers to feel the benefits of compelling solutions that will enable their businesses to grow, tailored to their needs.

Unified Communications and collaboration: Are you ready to step up? incovo’s guide

Unified Communications

What to consider for upgrading unified communications and collaboration?

Go to any telecoms solutions provider and undoubtedly they will be talking about Unified Communications and collaboration as a must-have dynamic and progressive communications breakthrough (which it is!); and whilst it is great and in some instances, crucial for some businesses. It is also broad and all encompassing and as such, time and effort should be taken to analyse your business’ requirements prior to engagement to ensure uptake and adoption. Unified Communications (UC) is not necessarily a single product, but a set of products and solutions that provides a consistent unified user-interface and user-experience across a variety of communications devices.

As individual consumers, we are used to accessing a variety of communications modes at any time via our smartphones and now the business community is seeking the same functionality and availability from the business equivalents. Depending on the business function, there are requirements for services such as: instant messaging(chat), presence information, voice (including IP telephony), mobility features (including extension mobility and single number reach), audio, web & video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), desktop sharing, data sharing (including web connected electronic interactive whiteboards), call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax).

Why upgrade?

Staff cuts, attrition, and skills gaps in an IT department can have a profound impact on an enterprise’s ability to maintain quality service for voice, data, and video.

When an enterprise is struggling to maintain multiple technology platforms, manage multiple vendors, and deploy disparate communications services, the move to Unified IP communications can make sense. incovo provides fully managed, cloud-based solutions that free mid-sized IT staff from the day-to-day headaches of managing communications infrastructure and services.

With embarking on such a UC project, no doubt as person responsible for planning and overseeing this implementation, you will undoubtedly will be thinking about the practicalities of such an undertaking for example, assessing LAN and WAN capacity, switches and routers, and all kinds of speeds and feeds. However, have you contemplated some of the more measured and far less technical steps beforehand? If not, we have put together a few practical considerations that we have encountered with clients as a solutions provider.

Head of Technology at incovo, Ray Prunty, who acts as the principle lead for all UC systems solutions for clients had the following advice to dispense – “Before worrying about the technical details, organisations should understand why they’re getting into UC in the first place – and how different employees will use the technology. The benefits of taking this approach is to allow the company to better understand what employees do and make sure they have the tools that make the most sense for their specific jobs.”

This is an industry concern as highlighted in the Gartner’s technology analysis and forecast “Optimize UC Adoption With These Best Practices.”  In the report, Gartner warns that:

“Through 2017, 30 percent of UC projects will fail to meet their objectives because the UC solution deployed does not adequately meet user needs in terms of functionality or user experience quality.”

That’s why at incovo, at the consultation and planning stage with our clients, we always discuss the following steps:

Step 1: Define your UC strategy

Firstly, we speak with the customer about what their business objectives are in regards to unified communications and collaboration – i.e. enhanced multi-channel response options or increased operational capacity when working remotely. Also, importantly, identifying the individual requirements of different users is going to determine what deployment will be best suited with regards to technology.

Knowledge workers have different requirements from those in a manufacturing plant. Similarly, employee needs depend on whether they’re at headquarters, a remote branch, or working at home.

For example, some remote workers may not need that much mobile technology. On the other hand, an engineer who works at a desk while also doing projects with others in different parts of the country will need the full range of UC technology.

The idea is to define profiles for each type of user, describing what they do and what their UC requirements are. Of course, it’s still important to recognise that the company as a whole has some shared communication needs.

Step 2: Create a realistic UC business case

Having established the requirements of all the users and their profiles, we are now best placed to create an accurate business case that will demonstrate that UC will improve business performance. Traditionally, to quantify estimated return on investment (ROI) for the Sales team, some consultants would simply calculate an average saving of say, 15 minutes per day that UC would save each of them and multiply this by the number of members.

However, this is an oversimplified approach and does not take into consideration user profiles and the extent of use of UC functionality per user. From this point we are able to determine the amount of time savings, productivity gains, and efficiencies you’ll gain on each user profile.

Step 3: Do a UC audit – don’t discount existing infrastructure

A common misconception is that all existing equipment and infrastructure becomes obsolete when upgrading to UC, for example Microsoft technology, Polycom speaker phones or headsets (headsets have been proven to increase the rate of UC adoption) – all of these are more than suitable for migration to a UC platform.

If it’s a solid product that’s doing its job and has useful life left, we look at integration with those products to deliver a holistic UC and collaboration environment. Once we understand what products can be re-purposed or need replacing, then we’ll get to a network assessment.

So whilst it’s important to find out if you’ve got enough bandwidth, server capacity, and the like; plus, your communications consultant will be able to advise on these matters during the initial feasibility stage of their consultation. But before all of that, it makes far more sense – and will result in a better outcome – to first take the three steps above.

If you are considering upgrading to an improved Unified Communications and Collaboration set up for your business then call us today and we can assess your needs. incovo will provide a consultation as well as an assessment that will test to ensure your network is properly configured for Quality of service, bandwidth, and topology for VoIp and Video traffic and includes installation of devices on your network that will help you simulate VoIP and video traffic.

unified communications Scotland

About incovo

incovo is a communications technology integrator of category leading unified communications, infrastructure, integrated network solutions and document management solutions to small and mid-sized organisations throughout the UK. Our focus is creating dependable, cost effective business communications solutions for businesses that ensure a variety of methods of collaboration to meet the ever changing market conditions.

At incovo, we provide fast and effective support to all of our customers through our multichannel support network – allowing our customers to feel the benefits of compelling solutions that will enable their businesses to grow, tailored to their needs.