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When Should You Start Looking At Unified Communications Companies?

Before long, unified communications, or UC, will be the standard for companies in nearly every industry. When planned and installed properly, UC has incredible potential in simplifying a company’s internal communications and encouraging employee productivity. The truth is, even the most streamlined business is losing time if it trusts its communications to legacy systems, and though the move to UC does require a significant financial commitment, that move comes with an impressive return on investment. Companies that adopt UC technology or managed services are realizing major gains in productivity, which pays back the UC investment, and then some.

There’s Always a Good Reason to Move to UC

Most of the trepidation in transitioning to a UC solution is a reluctance to change. If a legacy system is doing its job, then why commit resources transitioning to UC? Not too long ago, it was tough finding an opportunity to make the switch. The technology was new, so business owners wanted to see how it would play out, and it didn’t help that major tech players took their time getting into the market. Older computing and network systems weren’t prepared for the rise of UC and there just didn’t seem to be a big need for it. At first, UC could only benefit a small portion of a company’s workforce, which capped the ROI of such a solution.

This is no longer the case, as UC now makes sense for any forward-thinking business. The question remains, though – when is the best time to opt into a UC solution? The opportunities abound:

  1. Businesses with IT shortfalls – Companies have been doing more with less for years, and they are doing even more with even less now. Some of the heaviest cuts have been to IT departments, leaving fewer personnel with fewer skills among them. This situation often leads to a dearth of knowledge regarding communications technology, which means the company will continue to slip behind in this area.

    Managed UC solutions are an effective path out of this quagmire, allowing the company’s IT personnel to link with UC experts that can oversee system installation and performance. Managed UC solutions are also packaged with detailed training methods to give the company’s tech gurus the tools they need to operate the system’s components.

  2. Businesses dealing with several carrier contracts – As businesses add more telecommunication services to their ledgers, they have to sign additional contracts to keep those services running. In most cases, these contracts become a burden and make it difficult for a business to optimize their communication technology. UC offers a convenient way out of this wasteful arrangement, as businesses can scale up their UC solutions as carrier contracts expire. There is no rush to immediately drop services and deal with expensive out clauses, as the modular nature of UC means it can compensate when and where it’s needed.
  3. Businesses going through an acquisition or merger – There are hundreds of considerations to be made when two companies are joined, and one of those considerations should be how communications are optimized for new personnel. This is an optimal time to transition to UC, as everyone can be trained at the same time, and it gives the company an opportunity to build cooperation between new coworkers.
  4. Businesses going through a divestment – It works the other way, too. When it’s time for a business to sell off assets or release a business group, it’s also time to address the company’s communications. During the aftermath, new teams will have to organize and personnel may be shuffled to new campuses. UC solutions ensure that this won’t disrupt the business’s productivity and cohesion, as employees can remain in close contact no matter how the divestment shakes out.
  5. Businesses with outdated or failing legacy systems – Legacy PBX or key systems are aging rapidly, meaning service interruptions are increasing in frequency. Also, outdated legacy systems are losing ground to VoIP and UC all the time, as they cannot provide most of the features that modern communication systems offer. Service interruptions cost money and will eventually frustrate customers that attempt to contact the business. UC solutions offer unmatched reliability, with uptime nearing 100 percent in most cases.
  6. Businesses struggling with their customer contact department – Legacy systems are hamstrung with low call volume, which drives up abandon rates as customers are met with an interminable wait. Abandon rates are a strong indicator of how effective a company’s communications are, and high rates should be taken seriously. Customers that abandon calls are likely to look elsewhere for service, bruising the company’s revenue and branding power. UC solutions give customers additional options for communicating with company personnel, and also allow customer agents to quickly work through calls. Together, this drives up call volume without the need to hire additional customer service reps.
  7. Businesses that need an unfailing backup plan – Companies cannot afford to go offline for any amount of time, but disasters do happen. When they do, they can knock out business processes for days. That is a nightmare, but one that can be avoided. The goal here is redundancy, and UC solutions are designed with redundancy in mind. With redundancy, backup services are utilized as soon as an outage is detected. The effect is one of uninterrupted service.
  8. Businesses that need to keep their remote employees linked – Telecommuting is one of the fastest growing trends in the corporate world, as companies compete to offer superior work/home balance to their employees. Telecommuting brings obvious cost savings, as space and resources don’t have to be dedicated to remote employees. The challenge, though is keeping these remote employees on the same page as everyone else. UC is the most adaptable form of enterprise communications available, and that flexibility may be crucial in providing uniform service to remote locations. This is something that traditional carriers have extreme difficulty in providing.

In short, there are always reasons businesses should consider unified communications for their purposes. And this hasn’t gone unnoticed among corporate leaders. Unified communications are spreading among companies in all industries, and it will likely be the dominant form of communications by the end of the decade. But why make the switch at all? Sure, it’s easy to find the timing to do so, but why take advantage?

Unified Communications for Unifying Workforces

UC is no longer an excessive luxury for businesses. It brings real, tangible benefits to companies, and the kind of perks that every company should seek. For example:

  1. UC improves productivity in more ways than one – Unified communications allow companies to operate with much more agility. A Cisco survey found that, on average, employees save about 20 minutes every day in delayed communication time. That means for a large corporation, UC potentially means saving hundreds of hours of waste every day. Productivity is also boosted among remote employees and the teams that they work with. UC solutions are ideal for quickly connecting people over long distances, greatly slicing into the lulls that usually exist between remote coworkers. Finally, IT personnel save time in troubleshooting coworkers’ technical issues, freeing them up for more important maintenance and projects.
  2. UC means employees are always in touch – Before UC, employees would head home and shut their phone off to avoid being contacted. With UC, employees can establish what contact methods they prefer and what times of the day. Anyone, whether employee or client, will be automatically forwarded to that form of communication, whether it’s a voicemail, an e-mail or even a text. Both real-time and deferred methods of communication are linked together in this regard, so no one is ever completely out of reach.
  3. UC solutions can accommodate sophisticated forms of collaboration – Conferencing and collaboration are becoming essential elements of project execution, especially as corporations rely more and more on remote employees. It is tough to make this happen with outdated legacy systems, but UC solutions are a natural fit. A UC system can facilitate video conferencing and collaboration methods, allowing teams to maintain face to face communications wherever they go.

There may seem to be little need to toss aside a legacy communications system if it’s working. It’s only a matter of time, though, before it is rendered obsolete, and it’s best to plan now for the inevitable switch to a UC system. Fortunately, heavy hitting tech companies like Microsoft and Google have joined the industry, so there is no shortage of options for companies considering the move.

Matt Zaleski