Technologies that support communication and collaboration are important for any organization to increase productivity and efficiency and reduce information silos. Unified communication builds a foundation for a successful communication strategy across and beyond your company.
UC is a concept that describes the integration of many different communication platforms and services within a business environment to allow for a single user interface that offers different channels and forms to communicate with colleagues, customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
Gartner describes UC additionally as something that "can include control, management and integration" of the different enterprise communication channels. It's therefore not just the systems and applications but also how they are being combined and managed.
Although UC platforms do exist (such as Teams or Slack), unified communication can also be a combination of different tools, for example:
telephony (often cloud-based)
voice and video calls
paperless fax services
VoIP (IP telephony) - making calls through internet connections
However, it also includes features that help people to communicate better on these channels, such as:
The main advantage of successful UC is that a person doesn't have to switch between channels and systems but can send and receive all communication on one platform even if these messages are sent by different services (e.g., social media, email, chat). That way, the user saves time, doesn't miss messages and can pick the best channel without losing any information.
Modern unified communication systems are usually based in the cloud to offer more flexibility and mobility (e.g., by providing all services no matter if you are in the office, at home, on the go or with a client). This is called "Unified Communications as a Service" (UCaaS).
Many UCaaS systems can be used as a out-of-the-box solution and offer most mentioned features or work with partner software that can be added easily.
Additionally, UCaaS can make it easy to start with a simple setup and then build it up depending on the business (and customer) requirements. This can help companies keep control over the costs, reduce unnecessary systems (thus save money) and scale organically with demand.
What is important for successful United Communication?
In a business environment, different business units and even different people within these units communicate differently. That's why it's important to have a wide range of the needed tools which are not always sufficiently provided by one single platform (or another tool has to be used for compliance or other reasons).
However, too many applications can easily create data silos and even cause security risks if they are not set up sufficiently. Additionally, if not properly implemented, they can cause more work for users to log in and use them outside of the centralized platform.
A well-oiled set of API (application programming interface) can help not only connect different third-party tools but even let the tools communicate with each other which further helps to gain a full data overview and communicate seamlessly.
Especially a growing business wants security in the stability of its services both for its employees as well as customers. It is therefore important to have a system that can grow easily with upticks in engagement, user growth, etc.
Otherwise, the company risks that entire communication channels might not work properly because the servers are overwhelmed with inquiries. Or functions simply stop to work because they have a set limit of users/tickets/etc.
Cloud-based systems usually have an advantage on that account, since it is easier to add accounts, server power, and even tools on the go.
Data Security & Control
Cyber attacks have increased over the last years and concern all industries across the globe. A proper security strategy for different communication channels is therefore crucial to make sure that hackers can't get into the systems via a weaker third-party solution, phishing, or other means.
User control in particular is important to manage role-based access rights in order to manage who needs and receives access to functionalities and information.
In addition, the internal IT (or service providers) can implement restrictions for file formats and verification as well as authentication processes in a UC strategy. There are also excellent monitoring and encryption tools that protect all sensitive data and identify suspicious activities at an early stage (read more about it here).
Usability & UX
Unified communication needs to be implemented in a way that is easy to use. Especially in an environment that combines different tools and systems from different vendors, it is advisable to work on a coherent, clean, and intuitive interface that allows for users to explore and that's easy to learn.
Because even intuitive applications can become complex if they have a different layout and control than other applications and therefore force users to keep the differences in mind.
Read here, why this is so important for pretty much all applications and products in your company.
At the core of UC is the accommodation of different communication styles from customers, employees, partners, and other users. These can change with different campaigns, stakeholder groups and even with different types of information.
It can affect the user rate, quality of results and relationships with different stakeholders massively, if users of all types are forced to use communication functionalities they don't feel comfortable with or have to switch channels or exchange information in complex ways.
A Unified Commerce platform creates an environment that enables these different styles and connects all channels and data flows, to ensure transparency and seamless experiences.
An out-of-the-box solution might therefore be a good start but it should be evaluated and customized based on your own company's specific communication habits and channels, so it fits the working culture of your employees, offers the right communication forms to your customers and enables transparent partner and third-party-vendor collaboration.
With Teams, Microsoft offers one of the most popular, scalable, innovative, and intuitive UCaaS platforms on the market. Our DIGITALL experts are happy to not only help you implement but also customize the system so it fits to your industry's, market's and company's requirements. Learn more.