Just like many Irish people rarely ask straight out for directions, a customer will rarely ask straight out for a Unified Communications & Collaboration solution (UC&C). In both cases, they’ll get there eventually.
When it comes to an indirect request for UC&C, one of two things will usually happen; the customer will have a need to replace their existing phone system, or they may ask about another piece of infrastructure. Either way, the conversation will typically turn to UC&C.
So what is Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) and why does your business need it?
A traditional Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system, which most organisations have, is relatively featureless. A dial tone, multiple lines, voicemail, hunt groups (extensions), call pickup and an auto attendant is about all you can expect.
UC&C, in comparison, means multiple methods of communication such as voice, presence, instant messaging and video conferencing. It gives your business the ability to communicate and share content using just one platform, thereby enabling productive and efficient collaboration.
For example, instead of waiting for a colleague to reply to an email, UC&C allows you to use a Presence Solution (a piece of software installed on you PC or Laptop). This shows whether your colleague is available to talk, if they are busy on another call, if they are logged out, or just simply ignoring you. The Presence Solution allows you to ring, instant message or video call any colleague, via one, single application.
How Unified Communications & Collaboration makes life easier.
Need to conference someone into a call? Just instant message them and ask if they are available.
Have you built up contacts in your Outlook over the years? Simply right click on their name and call them or search for them in your Presence Solution, which integrates with your Outlook application.
Need to work on a document with a colleague in a different location? Share your document and work on it together in real time.
Is there a company-wide meeting coming up? Why not host a webinar, everyone can attend without wasting time and money travelling, and it can be recorded for people who can’t make it.
Is Unified Communications & Collaboration really something my organisation needs?
Business owners sometimes dismiss the need for UC&C, particularly during a company’s early stages. It’s important to consider UC&C in your company’s growth plans, as it enables scalability and is a useful resource as your business grows.
As companies grow, the need for mobility, remote access and fast, efficient communications like unified messaging increases, largely through employees’ need to work from different locations, while travelling or from home. It can also come through the need for a company to operate multiple offices across different locations.
The main hesitations for businesses that are considering a UC&C solution is the capital expenditure required and the reliability of the traditional PBX system.
‘But my existing phone works fine!’
PBX systems are traditionally reliable, but grow obsolete and are often not fit to evolve with a company’s growing needs. If that single piece of PBX equipment ever fails, not only will your phones be down, the likelihood is that the ‘reliable’ system is end of life and it can’t be repaired or replaced.
The important question businesses need to ask is how much is it going to cost if your phone system fails?
There are more solutions available now that are more affordable than ever before.
From a one-user SME to an international enterprise, there is an on premise or cloud based solution available for a huge range of budget and technical requirements, with all still providing the same reliability of a PBX but with a hugely increased set of features. With increased reliability, speed and availability of broadband throughout the country, more and more businesses are moving their services to the cloud.
Switching from an on premise solution to a hosted collaboration solution typically reduces total cost of ownership (TCO). You pay a predictable, monthly per-user fee, and you save even more by eliminating server rack space, power, and cooling costs associated with an on premise server. Initially, a cloud solution is likely to be cheaper than on premise, due to the low initial CAPEX and the cost savings made from cancelling existing costly PSTN connections, such as PRA, FRA and BRA connections. However, once a company grows to a certain size, the monthly per-user cost over a period of time can become more expensive.
Other factors that may require an on premise solution would be a lack of stable broadband or WAN connections and organisational protocols, which may require data and services to be hosted locally.
It’s worth noting that if a business is just looking for the basic functionality and relative lower cost option of a ‘dial tone’ and voicemail is also readily available in a UC solution, with the option to expand services when needed.
Expectation of employees.
It’s important to realise that today’s workforce is more tech-savvy than ever before. Employees want and need feature-rich intuitive communications and they expect this in their workplaces. To attract and retain the best people, and ensure they can be productive as possible, it’s important for employers to give access to best-in-class collaboration tools.
Use your outdated system one last time… to discuss Unified Communications & Collaboration.
If you want to discuss the best fit UC&C solution for your business, why not get in touch with a member of our team?
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