Inefficient business communication practices have a price. Companies with 100 employees lose an average of $420,000 a year, and this amount only increases for businesses with more employees.
When employees can easily come together to communicate and collaborate, businesses thrive. That’s why a unified communication strategy is so important. Here’s an overview of what this means and how your business can implement a strategy of your own.
Why Do You Need Unified Communications?
In the past, businesses typically utilized traditional legacy communication systems, starting with one phone system for an entire office. As a business grew, they’d just purchase more phone systems — none of which were connected to each other.
So, if an employee on the first floor of an office building needed to speak with a co-worker on the seventh floor, they’d need to dial the person’s full 10-digit phone number. This might sound like a small detail, but the disconnect between systems that are part of the same business leads to wasted time and lower productivity.
When video conferencing and email platforms were introduced, workers could communicate in more ways, but the systems were all disparate. And that’s where the need for unified communications arose.
What is Unified Communications?
Think about all of the communication tools a modern business uses: phone systems, instant messaging, email platforms and beyond. Unified communications is all about integrating your real-time communications under one system to help your business operate more efficiently and productively.
There are three main components of a unified communications system:
- Enterprise phone systems
- Audio and video conferencing programs (like Zoom)
- Real-time chats (like Slack)
Examples of Unified Communications
With remote workers, global business opportunities and millennial demand, unified communications is now a must-have tool.
Consider an employee who travels two weeks out of every month. At first, this might sound like a difficult way to work. Traveling in and out of hotel rooms, airports and shared workspaces can get chaotic, especially when there are calls to answer and emails to respond to.
With unified communications, employees can easily stay on top of their responsibilities from anywhere. If someone calls their work phone number, their laptop and mobile device can notify them in real time, expanding the capabilities of their landline phone.
This benefits remote workers as well. According to Gallup, 43% of U.S. employees work remotely at least some of the time, which can cause a few hiccups in terms of communication. But a unified system keeps workers connected to their team, no matter how many time zones are in between them and corporate headquarters.
How Unified Communications Works
Unified communication systems can be implemented using either an on-premise infrastructure or a cloud-based solution, also known as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).
On-premise infrastructure is considered to be an antiquated way of unifying. This is because relying on a physical server in one location requires continual updates and management.
Think about this in terms of cars. Every year, new models come out and eventually you’ll need to upgrade yours in order to take advantage of the latest available technology. Staying with an on-premise solution is like continuing to service and maintain your 1996 Ford Explorer. It’s a costly investment to remain with antiquated technology.
The beauty of cloud technology is that there’s no need for physical infrastructure. That means you’re spared from time-consuming, costly management and hardware upgrades, and any necessary technology updates can be done automatically.
On average, migrating from an on-premise solution to the cloud can lower monthly operating costs by 10 to 30%. Plus, you’ll never again need to make a capital investment in new on-premise hardware.
Benefits of Cloud-Based Unified Communications
The exact benefits of cloud-based unified communications will be on a case-by-case basis for each company, but generally the following can be expected:
Cloud-based communications can lead to a 10 to 30% monthly reduction in costs.
A cloud-based system will grow with your company and makes it simple to add new users whenever necessary.
Systems like Zoom and RingCentral are well-known for providing easy user experiences. This increases adoption company-wide, since an easy-to-use platform leads to employees who actually want to use the tools!
More efficient workforce
Getting in touch with anyone is easy, which reduces communication delays and boosts employee productivity and collaboration.
Reduced business risk
With your communications in the cloud, you won’t be storing your hardware in one central location.
How to Implement a Unified Communications Strategy
There’s no one-size-fits-all unified communications strategy. Every business is unique and will require a custom strategy in order for the benefits to be truly leveraged.
Another important note is that consumer devices and tools — like iMessage and FaceTime — are not designed for enterprise use. Business settings need more robust technology to handle the security, reliability and scalability needs of a modern-day office.
Implementing a unified communications strategy can be a complicated task for in-house teams. DGI has expertise helping business of all sizes, and we’re happy to answer any questions you have about your company’s systems. Just contact us here and let’s talk communications!