The expectations for unified communications (UC) systems vary greatly from one organization to another. For some, unified communications acts as a step forward in modernizing and streamlining communications. Others are much more concerned with specific ROI.
The value of unified communications is there for the taking, but many businesses fail to maximize their use of UC or never use it in ways that could bring real value. Additionally, unified communications itself continues to evolve in ways that drastically change and expand its appeal.
What unified communications Adoption Looks Like Right Now
Within organizations that have already adopted unified communications, certain features have garnered most of the attention. A business may see one department adopt the unified communications swiftly while others stay away. On the whole, businesses are seeing benefits for internal communications.
To date, the most popular applications of unified communications have included:
- Holding meetings without everyone physically present
- Easing communications thanks to presence status and instant messaging
- Routing calls from one phone number to desk and mobile phones
Why unified communications May Seem Slow to Bring ROI
Those already popular features are important and even game-changing for some organizations. However, more could be done to prove quantifiable ROI. The full power of unified communications can do more than just shave off wasted minutes and avoid busy signals.
Unified communications could potentially result in greater and faster ROI through 1) more widespread user adoption and 2) expanded uses.
Widespread adoption helps a business accrue value from all those efficiency and convenience benefits afforded to internal communications. With few users adopting, even a very affordable unified communications platform could take ages to bring returns, if ever.
Expanded uses could both open up new UC value and spur more user adoption.
Externalizing the Issue: unified communications and B2B Capabilities
It’s no secret why unified communications usage has focused on internal communications: Most unified communications platforms have largely been designed for just that. At the same time, it’s easy to see why user adoption lags. Employees already have (non-unified) ways of communicating with coworkers.
Businesses can find new user interest and greater value by approaching a unified communications system as a tool for B2B communications.
Consider why unified communications has advantages for B2B:
- Unified communications features prevent the pitfalls and logistics problems associated with simply calling clients and partners. Even traditional email can waste time or fail to reach the right targets.
- Integrating internal and external communications in one place simplifies things and keeps colleagues and third parties in the loop.
- Unified communications makes it easier for clients to make contact. Ideally, this convenience would run both ways.
Issues Facing B2B Use of UC
Not all unified communications offerings are perfectly prepared to handle B2B needs. In addition to the fact that many are designed with internal use in mind, some unified communications platforms do not coordinate easily with other unified communications platforms.
Businesses interested in optimizing unified communications for external communications should consider services designed for interoperability. In some cases, individual features may not work between two particular systems. However, there are systems designed for unified communications “federation” and future releases will presumably trend toward making external connections more user-friendly with more supported features.
The greatest value of unified communications likely has not been tapped yet. Organizations already using unified communications can consider renewing the push for user adoption. For those yet to adopt, taking on a system that handles both internal and external uses offers the highest and fastest ROI.