What is Unified Communications?

Unified Communications (UC) refers to a phone system that integrates (or “unifies”) multiple communication methods within a business.

Your business probably communicates in a number of ways: phone calls, video conferencing, instant messaging, email, SMS, fax – the list goes on and on.

A UC solution brings together all the ways your business communicates and lets them “talk” to each other so they can work together in one system – making your business much more efficient.
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128 Ways UC Improves Businesses

Modern office communications require connectivity, mobility, and unique features for a variety of users. And Unified Communications (UC) brings all of these advanced capabilities and more.

Explore 128 ways that Unified Communications can improve businesses, from boosting user experience to cost savings.

Benefits of Unified Communications

UC offers a competitive advantage to businesses by reducing the number of independent tools, platforms, and solutions they need to communicate.

Many businesses are choosing UC solutions over a traditional phone systems because it’s a better way to future-proof their investment and keep pace with advances in technology.

Here are a few of the main benefits UC has to offer businesses:

  • Improved efficiency
  • Reduced costs
  • Increased revenue
  • Better customer service

Features of a Unified Communications System

Mobility

Mobility allows you to stay connected regardless of your location. Through your office extension, you can make and receive calls, chat, and more with softphone applications.

Web-Based User Interface

Some UC platforms offer web-based interfaces that provide full call control  from web browsers, giving users the ability to customize phone settings, voicemail, and more.

Presence

Presence lets others know if a particular user is available to communicate. These indicators may include Do Not Disturb, Active, Out of the Office.

Unified Messaging

With unified messaging, users can manage many types of messages from a single application and switch communication modes on demand. 

Fax Support​

With a UC system, faxes are received by the system and then routed to the destination as an attachment to an email. This process is the same on desktop and mobile devices.

Conferencing

 Conferencing gives a group of users the ability to meet and speak via voice and video from multiple locations. This option is also available to outside organizations, partners, or clients.

Collaboration

 UC expands communication capabilities and offers employees more flexible work options. Workers can enjoy greater levels of collaboration, which benefits the entire organization.

Advanced Notifications

Users can receive notifications in several ways, enhancing communication across the office. With advanced notifications, a voicemail can be sent via text message or email along with a copy of the recording. 

Learn how UC boosts productivity and collaboration while saving money.

Terms to Know When Looking at UC Solutions

Before you go out and start looking for a new UC solution for your business, there are a few things to know in order to avoid confusion when you’re talking to tech vendors. Understanding these basic industry terms is essential for evaluating your options and determining what your business really needs.

The term “PBX” stands for Private Branch Exchange. A PBX is simply a business phone system.

A PBX takes in all of the calls your office receives from the outside world and directs them to your various employees’ desks. Therefore it eliminates the cost of leasing multiple phone lines from a telephone company.

A PBX also connects the calls from one employee to another within your office, so you don’t need an outside telephone line for internal calls, which saves even more on your monthly phone bill.

Interactive Voice Response, or IVR, might also be referred to as an “Automated Attendant,” and it’s one of the most popular phone system features today.

When you call a business and an automated attendant answers:

“Thank you for calling ABC Distributing. If you know your party’s extension, you may dial it at any time, or press “0” to speak to an operator.”

That’s an IVR.

This phone system feature saves you money by handling repetitive tasks that would otherwise take the time and attention of a human. Just think about how much you could increase office productivity simply by eliminating the need to answer and transfer calls.

As mentioned above, think of Unified Communications (or UC) as a phone system on steroids.

Just like your smartphone is a single device that performs many functions, a UC solution combines your:

  • Business phone system
  • IVR
  • Voicemail
  • Instant message
  • Chat
  • Fax
  • Conference call bridge
  • Video conferencing
  • And more…

It can also integrate with:

  • Email
  • web applications
  • social media
  • Business tools like your customer relationship management (CRM) system.

A deployment method for delivering UC to organizations via the Cloud.

Traditionally, UCaaS has served mostly smaller businesses who have small or no IT departments. However, over time, UCaaS is beginning to be adopted by midsize businesses and enterprises.

UCaaS is considered by most to be the future of communications technology.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the transmission of phone calls over the Internet, instead of using traditional telephone landlines.

VoIP (typically pronounced “voyp”) is more affordable, especially for international and other long-distance calls. It also allows businesses to reduce their IT infrastructure by eliminating the need to maintain separate voice and data networks.

Mobility is a term for integrating your fixed desk phone with your mobile phone. This creates a seamless communication experience whether you are at your desk or on the road.

Using one phone number, customers can ring you on your desk, mobile, or home phone based on how you set your call rules or preferences.

When you call a customer or vendor, your office phone number appears on their caller ID, regardless of the phone from which you are actually calling. This creates what is commonly referred to as a “unified” view of your business.

The term BYOD is slang term that has been modified to one of the hottest trends, and biggest IT challenges, in business communications.

Let’s say your company’s sales director is attached to his/her iPhone, but several of your engineers prefer using their Android phones – and they all want to use the devices for both personal and work use.

No problem! The days of issuing a dedicated corporate mobile device are over.

Modern UC solutions can securely operate across a variety of mobile platforms, tablets, and even home phones. This mobile flexibility enables your team to access business-critical applications from their preferred personal devices.

When you’re able to integrate with your team’s favorite gadgets, it helps work become more flexible and productivity goes up.

Plus, your employees will appreciate not having to carry around multiple cell phones or other devices, while you save on technology costs.

An Application Programming Interface (API) allows you to customize your phone system, and therefore may be one of the most important features to consider in your next phone system.

An API allows a software developer to extend the functionality of your phone system by integrating it with other third-party business applications, such as your preferred CRM software like Salesforce or SugarCRM.

Ultimately, this means you can increase employee productivity, improve customer service, and get more life out of your phone system investment.

Learn common UC terms, benefits, and basics with the UC cheat sheet

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