Unified communications is a term referring to the process of integrating a number of different enterprise communications, combining real time communications systems such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and VoIP services with non-real time systems such as e-mail and SMS. The goal of integrating these disparate systems is to allow a user to send a message over one system and receive it on another.
For example, a user could receive a notification that they have a voice message and then access it through whatever system is most convenient for them, be it e-mail or through their cell phone. Unified communications are a relatively new technology, but as time goes on, more and more businesses are realising the potential these systems can offer with regards to a company’s productivity. Because unified communications are designed to integrate existing systems rather than replace or upgrade them, it is often cost effective and doesn’t require a major shake-up in how employees communicate with one another.
Increasing Employee Productivity
Unified communications systems work best when they are integrated with presence technology. Simply put, presence is a simple but effective piece of software that shows the current status of other employees. It is technology that we are all familiar with; it’s the same technology that shows us whether Facebook friends are currently active and alerts us when a friend signs-in to an instant messaging app. The ability to see who is available in real-time means that employees can decide on the most appropriate communications system to use for a given task based on who they need to contact from the list of available, active colleagues.
Encouraging Efficient Teamwork
Efficient communication is even more important when employees are working as part of a larger team. One of the major shifts in how businesses approach collaborative work that has arisen from the ubiquity of instant communications is that collaborative projects can be worked on by different companies or by individuals within the same company who are physically a long way from one another. Traditionally, this has been done through the use of conferencing services, but these are often expensive and offer little benefit compared to VoIP conferencing, which is considerably cheaper. Again, the integration of presence software is beneficial to effective teamwork. If one member of the team is unavailable, or it is realised that there is a gap in the current teams’ skill set that needs filling, presence software makes it easy to identify suitable individuals to join the collaboration.
Making Management More Agile
In the absence of integrated communications systems, management often has to chase up employees individually in order to review the progress of projects. Unified communications, in conjunction with presence software, allow management to communicate with employees through the most appropriate system, and at a time that is convenient for both parties. Opting for a supplier such as Masergy that provides Unified Communications As A Service rather than as entirely new products, makes them an easier sell to upper management. More agile management is a key factor in boosting productivity and the less hectic and worried interactions between management and staff is the more receptive both sides will be to the concerns of the other.
Unified communications systems are a rising star in the world of enterprise communications technology and look set to play a key role in the way businesses handle internal communications for the foreseeable future.