I got a random email from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in over 6 years a few weeks ago. After some back and forth in Outlook, we did what people did before the Internet…we called each other and talked! It was great, it felt like the good old days and then suddenly, he said it, “It’s been crazy here since COVID…”
And there was silence.
My first thought was his family- were they affected, are they doing okay financially, is everyone safe?
“Yeah- we’ve been so busy since COVID and my business has never been better! I’m so glad we decided to go with VoIP- hey you’re in tech, right- was it the right move to go with UC?”
With a smile on my face, I thought about all the cool technology holding it all together, the neat ways that his business could reap immediate benefits, the savings, the huge boost in productivity…
“Yeah, buddy, UC is definitely a good move!”
What is UC?
Now maybe the University of California would be happy to claim the abbreviation for themselves, but the real hero here is Unified Communications. In simple terms- UC is really everything a modern business needs to run. It’s video, chat, conferencing, file sharing, collaboration and of course, voice calling. As with all technology, once it become more widely accepted, it started to become more commoditized and as a result, the concept of Unified Communications as a Service or UCaaS was born.
To quote folks who have armies of researchers, Gartner recently stated that “the UC market adoption will accelerate in early 2022 as IT leaders implement their strategic UCaaS initiatives to align with their organization’s remote and hybrid working plan.” So, what does that mean? Well, just like my buddy, many businesses are contemplating or in the middle of making the transition into VoIP, but if you’re still shopping, here’re a couple of things to help guide you along your journey.
3 Things to Look for in a Unified Communications Platform
When shopping around, there are always features that companies will boast and there will inevitably be things that will draw your attention or interest but consider the following critical elements before making any decisions.
The concept of presence is the foundation of unified communications. In a chat, it’s the small green circle next to your name; on a phone, it’s the green light that shows you’re available to take a call. It’s a gateway that reflects your willingness and ability to immediately communicate. An effective UC platform should be able to provide status indicators on all communication channels, giving employers, colleagues, and clients visibility into user availability- which is critical as remote working becomes more prevalent. As much as we don’t want to refuse a call from one of the Executives, it’s just as important to be able to broadcast that you’re “In a meeting” or “Away” or “At lunch” and you certainly can’t be taking calls when you’re presenting on working on a deadline. Whether remote or in an office, presence has become an integral part of work and has enabled users to ‘project’ their availability like never before.
2. User Interface:
It’s 2021- there’s no need to work on airport terminal-type screens anymore- not even at airports. A frictionless end user experience is important for any technology, and unified communications is no different. The sharp rise in remote working has led organizations to invest in several applications, making it even more critical for them to ensure that they choose a UC platform that delivers a unified user interface (UI), which remains consistent. This means a predictable, standard employee experience, regardless of device, with data accessible in real time. For a UC platform to achieve this, it must be built to facilitate interoperability, and have enough sophistication to handle all communication tasks. That means that voice calling, instant messaging, presence, video conferencing, content sharing, and more are easily accessible from the same user interface (vs. a third-party application) no matter where the user is.
3. Integration Capabilities:
And finally, a vital characteristic of a reliable unified communications platform is integrated audio and video conferencing. Using a conference tool should be easy, but the technology behind them is increasingly complex since the uptick in video calls, webinars, and meetings. With remote working, there’s been a significant jump in demand for video calling, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. With innovations in meeting strategies, artificial intelligence (AI), and recordings and transcriptions, companies are generating more content than ever. It’s essential that every aspect of UC- from traditional telephony and call control to collaboration capabilities- can be capably managed by a single provider.
The foundational technology used to run a business is an important aspect of integration. A company’s tech stack will also include operational software and applications, such as calendars and emails, which are another point of consideration for UC integration capabilities. Ideally, point solutions are addressed individually, and no area of communication exists in isolation from the unified communications platform.
The Importance of Streamlined UC: Ogletree Case Study
Now that I’ve shared what I consider the 3 most important aspects of a unified communications platform, let’s look at what that means to one of our customers. International law firm, Ogletree Deakins has more than 60 locations around the world. Their users experienced regular outages that crippled their communications and handling of time sensitive transactions. Their internal and external communication channels were significantly impeded until they deployed Evolve IPs unified phones and contact center. With US offices and locations in London, Toronto, Berlin, Mexico City and Paris they experienced immediate improvements across the board- with savings of almost $300K per year, they not only stabilized their network and eradicated system outages, but they also enabled their workforce to embrace collaboration by relying on Evolve IPs unified communications solution.
So the next time you’re about to make a UC provider decision based on how fancy their desk phones look, look beyond the fancy blinking lighting and HD handsets- consider the actual impacts. If your business is disrupted or limited by a lack of communication, you will inevitably fall behind. If you want to keep that competitive advantage in today’s market, you must know that you can rely on your UC service provider. They need to understand your business needs and deliver an easy-to-use, seamless option and most importantly, provide a long-term strategic solution.
Evolve IP’s Unified Communications delivers award-winning collaboration and crystal-clear voice services that integrate with the applications you’re already using today, on any connected device. So, if you’re curious about what we can do for your business, then reach out to one of our Technology Advisors and #JoinTheEvolution!