Unified Communications (UC), simply put, is a platform designed to merge all the real-time and asynchronous communication tools businesses use into a single solution. The benefits of this are great, especially the enhanced ability to collaborate and the productivity increase caused by more efficient communication.
What Can Unified Communications Merge?
If you’ve spent any time reading material on Unified Communications, then you know that a UC platform makes communication easier by streamlining processes. That’s all well and good, and the benefits of this should not be understated, but if you either have not used or do not regularly make use of a UC system, you may be wondering: just what can Unified Communications merge?
Before Voice over IP (VoIP), phone systems operated separately from data connections, on a dedicated voice network. But with packet-switched technology, VoIP makes it possible for voice to share a common LAN connection with other communication tools. This is the foundation that allows UC to merge telephony with other modes of communication to create a common ‘inbox’ for communication tools.
CRM and Business Tools
UC platforms are in many ways advanced business phone systems, so the heart of the platform is telephony. But one of the most interesting answers to “What can Unified Communications merge?” is the many ways voice calls can be managed with other tools in the UC platform. Many different applications can be merged into a UC system, depending on the needs of the business. Most businesses rely on some sort of customer relationship management (CRM) tool, like Salesforce. With UC, the data involved in phone calls is connected both ways between the telephone system and the CRM. So when a call comes in, pertinent information about the caller and their potential needs can be displayed on the phone handset, while call data, such as call time and other data, is recorded in the customer profile within the CRM.
Additionally, if a call is missed or sent to voicemail, that voicemail can easily be managed through the visual voicemail functionality available on either a desktop interface or through a mobile app. Alternatively, settings can be configured to send voicemails to an email so that emails and voicemails can be managed at the same time, and voicemails can easily be saved or forwarded to others.
Another answer to “What can Unified Communications merge?” is the work of people within teams. In other words, UC’s powerful integrations take collaboration to another level. One example of this is the way in which smart presence and status information can feed into the system. This can inform dynamic call rules, sending calls to an ‘out of office’ person either to voicemail or another available agent and providing auto-responses to emails and messages.
Another example of UC merging workflows is the ease with which multiple agents can interact with a single call without the need to forward it or park it at a different extension. Agents with the right permissions can listen to calls, ‘whisper’ to their coworker (so the caller cannot hear), and even barge into the call if necessary. And when it comes to collaboration, UC merges voice and conferencing features so that a phone call can easily be made into a conference call or a video chat as needed, from the same interface.
Faxing for the Future
One interesting example of what Unified Communications can merge is the way fax (an analog technology if ever there was one) can be integrated with these other tools. An incoming fax can be received digitally as a pdf, and a fax can be sent from within the UC interface, sending a digital document to be physically printed on the recipient’s fax machine. This makes it easy to conduct business with other businesses or customers who insist on using fax while keeping all of your communications unified on a single platform.
Check out Our UC Cheat Sheet
And those are just a sampling of the many ways different tools can work together. The possibilities for improving workflow and increasing productivity with UC are almost as endless as answers to “What can Unified Communications Merge?”. To help aid you in your search for the right Unified Communications platform, we’ve created a handy cheat sheet to UC basics. Download your free copy today!