In the face of tight operational schedules, tighter IT budgets, and the ever-continuing need to meet customer expectations, a growing number of companies across all industries are turning to unified communications (UC).
What is UC?
Although it’s often treated as a single product, UC encompasses a wide variety of communication products that are combined to enable a less fragmented communications landscape for businesses. UC allows businesses to utilize their real-time (VoIP and video conferencing) and non-real-time (e-mail, fax and SMS) communications as a singular, well-integrated experience.
Since UC relies heavily on data transported over a network connection, it requires a completely digital communications environment — which can complicate certain aspects of a company’s current telecom infrastructure. For instance, traditional private branch exchange (PBX) phone lines are often not compatible with UC, making a transition to hosted VoIP systems necessary. Despite these issues, UC offers a number of benefits that appeal to business users.
In addition to enabling drastic improvements in user productivity and reliability, UC offers a wide array of other tangible benefits and useful features:
- Mobility – Employees only need an Internet connection and user credentials to access all of their business communications, allowing them to remain productive outside of the office environment.
- Security – UC’s digital environment provides a greater level of security for sensitive data. For instance, users can rely on data encryption along with robust user authentication to protect their data against visible and unforeseen threats.
- Scalability – UC systems can be upscaled or downsized depending on a company’s needs. All data processing is handled and stored at a single point, making this process more straightforward.
- Presence – This feature tells customers and staff when an employee becomes available and on which communication channel they can be reached. This makes it easier for both employees and customers to contact the right person, improving customer retention while drastically reducing missed calls.
Any business looking to incorporate UC into its operations should be aware of the potential hurdles involved. For instance, the increase in digital data could place a strain on current network infrastructure, especially if the business has not made the proper accommodations for increased bandwidth. In addition, it is possible for digital communications to be disrupted during an Internet outage.
Businesses hesitant to make a full transition into UC should consider Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), where the actual communications technology is handled by a third-party cloud provider based on a subscription model. Businesses that pursue this option are not burdened with the complexities of managing and updating their communications technology.
What Businesses Can Expect
Although it’s currently unknown what direction the future of the UC market will take, businesses should be aware of the following trends:
- According to MarketWatch, the UC industry is set to be worth $24.88 billionby 2020.
- The UCaaS market’s growth is set to outpace the rest of the UC industry.
- The hybrid approach to UC is gaining popularity with businesses. With this approach, communications functions are usually split between in-house IT teams and third-party providers.
To learn how your business can reap the rewards of UC, contact us at eXemplify to schedule a no-obligation strategy session.