Technology breakthroughs have significantly contributed to the development of new and improved kinds of human contact. Consequently, people demand the best experience when engaging with others. Your employees, customers, and brand partners expect the best communication and collaboration possible. 

Thanks to modern technology, you can provide a unified experience, putting everything your employees require in one location, from video to material exchange and online chatting. You can get to the apps, resources, and records you need at any time, from any location, and on any device. It’s called unified communications. 

When considering the basics of running your small business, you should definitely add unified communications to your list. Let’s dive into what unified communications are, the benefits they come with, and the features to look for. 

What Is Unified Communications?

Unified communications (UC) combines several business communication systems – such as audio calling, video conferencing, texting, attendance, file transfer, and so on – into one simplified interface to optimize user experience performance. UC technology enables a user to smoothly shift from one form of communication to another inside the same session. Many UC structures also interconnect with third-party business tools to improve data and resource centralization and processes.

UC technology enables the unification of systems that provide real-time and delayed communication, ensuring that users on both sides have simple, quick access to all required tools in a standardized setting from any location and device. Many UC solutions incorporate team collaboration capabilities with messaging-oriented workflows and collaborative features like real-time file transfer and commenting. These advanced UC systems are also known as unified communications and collaboration systems (UCC).

With remote work being more and more prevalent, especially right now, having tools that create efficiencies and unify your communication efforts is a must. 

How Does Unified Communications Work?

UC platforms rely on various back-end systems to function. These systems operate in the background to provide a seamless user experience. Back-end infrastructure could include gateways, a UC platform/server, a visual overpass for teleconferencing, and a private branch exchange network or a VoIP system. While back-end systems enable unification, the front-end user gives access to all linked apps and services.

Communication vs. Collaboration: Are They the Same?

Having a communication plan is essential, especially for remote small businesses. But, a communication plan can take many different shapes, so it’s important to know which will serve your small business the best. The majority of businesses have:

  • External Communication Strategy: This approach focuses on improving communication with customers, investors, and vendors. External communication plans usually embrace multiple channels, covering everything from VoIP to social networks.
  • Internal Communication Strategy: This approach focuses on keeping personnel connected. It allows remote employees to interact with in-office colleagues via videoconferencing, and it provides real-time message communication. Internal communication, like external communication, frequently employs several channels.

Something that sets the internal communication strategy apart from the external is that it incorporates collaboration. Collaboration, unlike communication, is about constructively working together towards achieving shared goals. For example, communication is when you phone someone using a VoIP channel to discuss an upcoming project. But, if you commence sharing screens and altering a document together while you’re chatting, that’s collaboration.

Understanding the Benefits of UC for Collaboration

UC is frequently praised for boosting team performance and allowing more interaction and engagement than the old phone-only method. And, it’s useful for everyone. Whether you’re the CEO, in customer service, or a department manager, UC is absolutely crucial across all levels of the organization. 

Certain UC technologies, such as webinar software, do more than just improve communication. They can help your small business generate leads, lower travel expenses, increase productivity, and improve engagement. Thanks to UC solutions, people can work from the office, their residences, or on the road utilizing several devices, including desktop and laptop computers as well as smartphones.

The advantages of UC can also be extended to a company’s customer base. Users can immediately engage with businesses that combine UCaaS systems with social media, client-centered applications, or call center tools, offering real-time feedback and efficient infrastructure to maximize client satisfaction.

What Features Should You Look for in UCaaS?

There are several significant features included in all UCC software. These essential features are created to improve collaboration across all levels of a business.

1. Enterprise Telephony

Enterprise telephony is a business phone infrastructure that includes services like call waiting, three-way calling, line transfer, and call redirection. With a centralized enterprise telephony system, you can easily handle inbound, outbound, and internal phone conversations across all business operations.

Unlike a standard corporate phone system, which just allows you to make and receive calls, UC integrates cell service, video conferencing, group texting, SMS, fax, and other methods of communication into a single platform.

2. Meetings (Audio/Video/Web Conferencing)

Voice over IP is a comprehensive solution for businesses to take advantage of the cloud’s capabilities and a reliable internet connection. VoIP not only provides businesses with more functionality from their phone connections but also saves them money.

Face-to-face discussions are highly beneficial to a digital workforce, so ensure that your UC solution allows you to use high-quality video conferencing with HD video and audio.

Most web video conferencing software qualifies as UC as they maintain offering communication services in addition to their primary product of hosting online video meetings. Videoconferencing is a powerful technology that practically every UC provider has incorporated into their offering in some form.

3. Unfiled Messaging

Two major advantages of combining multiple systems into one are increased productivity and better responsiveness. Employees spend less time learning new procedures and are better prepared to respond to clients. Additionally, activities taken on multiple forms of communication are synchronized, so if a worker hears a voicemail and answers via email, both channels are adjusted to reflect those activities.

The most significant advantage of unified messaging is cost reductions. Organizations are not required to provide IT assistance, personnel, and maintenance for a voicemail system created by one company and an email system designed by another.

4. Instant Messaging and Availability

The UC experience includes instant messaging as a standard feature. We live in a fast-paced society where people require quick access to information. Instant messaging lets people connect in real-time over the internet using IM software. Prior to instant messaging, we were dependant on someone’s availability to take a phone call, their physical presence, or the speed of email response. Now, thanks to instant messaging, employees know which team members are available at any given time and can get the support they seek to finish work or assist clients.

5. Mobility

Sophisticated mobility technologies arose as one of the best ways to allow scattered personnel to communicate and smoothly run a business, regardless of the various settings they were required to rotate among. Mobility also means having access to and utilizing the features and functions of a company’s unified communications system from any place and on any device. Communications services that offer strong mobility not only support the new hybrid workplace but also boost productivity in ways that will last long after this health crisis has passed.

6. Communication-Enabled Business Processes

Thanks to CEBP, communication capabilities are smoothly integrated with enterprises’ processes, applications, and communication channels. The important word here is “smoothly,” meaning that end-users only need minimal training and effort to communicate successfully.

CEBP has shown significant potential, and if adequately adopted, offered, and delivered, it will transform the way businesses interact internally and with their consumers, regardless of their size or financial resources.

Individuals and business associates use communication and collaboration technologies to share information in real-time over various communication channels. Unified Communications has become a vital element of today’s corporate environment. Simultaneously, the number of employees working from home rather than at the office continues to rise. Now is the moment to upgrade your company’s communication infrastructure to make it future-ready, and we hope this article can help you bring a dash of valuable and new technology into your business.

Author Bio

Mitko Ivandjikov is a professional outreach specialist at Intercoolstudio, working with the team to increase their visibility and grow their customer base. He’s also an avid sports fan who spends his free time watching, reading about, or playing basketball. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.