What is Unified Communications?
Unified Communications (UC) systems combine all the ways a business communicates into one solution, including voice, chat, email, fax, instant messaging, and texting (SMS/MMS). It enables a user to switch between these modes of communication easily, enhancing productivity and increasing collaboration.
All employees can benefit from UC, whether they are in the office, away-from-desk employees, on the road, or working from home. All the tools that are available to office workers, such as video conferencing, presence management, screen sharing, chat, etc., are available from the desktop, laptop, or mobile device.
Features of a Unified Communications System
UC enables you to stay connected throughout the day, regardless of your location. You can make and receive calls, chat with your colleagues, and more using your extension on your desk phone, your mobile device, or on a softphone.
Web-Based User Interface
Some UC platforms offer web-based interfaces, providing users full call control right from their browser. Dashboards give users the ability to customize their phone settings, voicemail, conference rooms, and more.
Presence lets others know if a particular user is available to communicate. A presence status may be set automatically by the system or by the user. For example, if a user is on a call, the system may automatically set the presence to Do Not Disturb. Presence can also be used to indicate the best way to contact the user. It may be set to Text or Chat Only because the user is working in a noisy environment where a voice call is not practical.
Unified Messaging allows users to manage many types of messages from a single application and switch communication modes on demand. For example, a conversation that starts as SMS or chat can be moved easily to a voice call without losing context. If someone leaves a voice message requesting a document, it is easy to reply to the voice message with an email without having to move to a different application.
Fax is still an important part of many businesses, including medical, insurance, and financial services. Integrated fax as part of a UC system means no more stand-alone fax machines. Faxes are received by the system and then routed to the destination user as an attachment to an email. Users can send faxes in the same way from their desktop or mobile application.
Working together is not just about 1-to-1 conversations. A UC system enables conferencing; giving groups of users to the ability speak at once via voice and video and across different endpoint types and business locations. Clients, prospects, partners, and vendors from outside the organization can also join the conference. Conferences can be scheduled or can be created ad-hoc when moving from another mode of communication. Conferences are endpoint independent so that participants can join from on-network endpoints (desk phone, softphone, or mobile application) or any off-network device that can call a PSTN phone number.
UC enables people to communicate easier, better, and more often. By expanding communication capabilities to more employees and allowing them to work from anywhere, employees can enjoy greater levels of collaboration, which benefits the entire organization.
UC systems allow you know each time someone is trying to communicate with you by providing several ways to be notified. For example, when you receive a voicemail, you may simply see a blinking Message Waiting Indicator (WMI) light on your desk phone, softphone, or mobile app. Or, you may receive a text message or email with the recorded message attached or with a link to the recorded message.
Who Benefits From UC?
Every type of employee can benefit from the use of UC.
Desk workers no longer need to leave their desk to send or receive a fax, spend time searching for other employees to help them complete their work or switch between applications, including customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. Everything they need to communicate is in one central location.
Away-from-desk workers are on-premise, but spend most of the day away from their desk. Furniture or car salespeople are a great example of this. A UC application running on their mobile device gives them the mobility they need without being tied to their desk to manage important communications.
At Home Workers
A UC system gives the work-from-home employee the same tools as someone at their desk in the office. No longer is location a barrier to great employee communication and productivity.
Managing routine communication is often difficult when on the road. A UC system can be accessed from a laptop or mobile app to deliver the same ease of communications as any other worker.
UC Solutions from Sangoma
Switchvox is the award-winning turnkey UC solution designed to be both fully-featured and easy-to-use. With all-inclusive pricing, Switchvox offers a powerful set of UC features at one affordable price, meaning no costly add-ons or unexpected expenses for business-critical functionality— including contact center, mobility, and conferencing.