Top 5 Unified Communications Features You Need Today

By Matthew Hilton
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top 5 unified communications features

In the fast-paced world we live in, every moment without being productive seems like an eternity. And given how much technology has pushed the upper limits of our productivity it’s quite astonishing that some workplaces still utilize outdated, or legacy phone systems that lack modern features – slowing the workforce down. In order to maximize the way your business communicates, here are the top five Unified Communications (UC) features you should look for when selecting a better business phone system:

 

  • Mobility

On a global scale, people have never been more accessible. Whether utilizing text messaging, instant messaging, cell phone calls, video chat or the countless other social media tools in our daily lives, people have never had faster or more complete access to one another at any other time in our history. So why should the workplace be any different? Why should you be stuck waiting for an email response from a coworker, a voicemail to be returned from a client, or for an employee to return to the office before they can respond to you?

With mobility, your workforce can be productive on the road, from a home office, out on the shop floor or really anywhere. No longer are employees tied to their desks to efficiently communicate. Mobility enables your workforce to present themselves as if they’re in the office, using a desk phone – no matter where they are.

  • Productivity

Long gone are the days of operator assisted dialing, so why are employees still stuck with manual, static, or administrator-only call controls with an outdated phone system? Empower your employees to make their own call rules – the ones that best suit their most efficient workflows­.

With Next-Generation Call Control, employees can set up where they’d like calls to ring and for how long. They can utilize applications designed to control calls in real time to assist with transferring calls, creating conferences, placing calls on hold, and so much more. All of these tools should be easy to use with an employee-friendly approach encouraging creativity and most importantly, productivity.

  • Compatibility

It’s certainly not as fun as being able to manipulate your call rules in real time, but interoperability, or being able to utilize phones, intercoms, paging speakers and devices from multiple manufacturers, can save a lot of money in the long term. Buying manufacturer-specific equipment that matches your UC solution will give you the closest integrations possible, but what happens when you have no other choice but to use other manufacturers devices? What if one vendor’s system doesn’t produce an emergency call box, for example? Or you require a specialty call controller that ties into your video surveillance solution?

Buying a phone system that provides compatibility with many device types and manufacturers ensures you will be able to find a device that fits your specific needs, no matter how complicated or unique.

  • Flexibility

You have employees that work from home. You’ve got a small satellite office with 10 employees downtown. Your headquarters employs 400. Does your phone system easily and seamlessly link all of these employees together? With offerings from major carriers that include on-premises, remote, softphone and cloud-based UC platforms it can sometimes be overwhelming deciding which provider has the right solution for you.

The best provider is the one that doesn’t make you choose but rather is flexible enough to allow the solution to present itself to you. Gone are the days where you’re stuck sacrificing features and functionality in order to meet a phone system’s demands. Now, any able-bodied UC solution should be able to tailor itself to your needs without having to compromise.

  • Economy

With some UC solution providers – hardware, software, licensing, modules, cards and accessory costs are not only cost-prohibitive, they are also complicated to comprehend. One of the best benefits of a great UC solution is that it’s “unified” – meaning, it should be all-inclusive. Many UC providers still charge the “old fashioned” way – offering a very low initial price but tack-on costs for add-on features (that are often business-critical features, like mobility); vendors do this because it provides a revenue stream past the initial point of sale. These types of solutions force businesses to resist trying features that could otherwise enhance their business communications, all because it costs too much money to do so, or because they simply are too confused by the options to make education choices.

So be smart and don’t jump to purchase a low-cost entry-level UC solution as it may require add-on packages and licenses. Instead look for solutions that are economic for your business long-term, not just on the initial invoice.

 

The bottom line is this – any great Unified Communications solution should provide these five core values readily and should also proudly demonstrate how they can resolve your business communications inefficiencies, enhance employee productivity and scale economically as your business needs require. And ultimately, you shouldn’t need to be an IT person, a telephony guru or even overly technically inclined. A great solution will work for you and your business and will continue to do so for years to come.

 

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About the Author

Matthew Hilton

Matthew is the Switchvox Product Marketing Manager for Digium. Matthew has spent the last 15 years in various IT roles working for multiple Fortune 500 companies and Value-Added Resellers. Not one to sit idly by, his job titles have included, Business Analyst, Systems & Network Engineer, VOIP Engineer, Programmer and Marketing Specialist. He graduated from the Eastern Connecticut State University with a BA in English and a focus on Business Information Systems.

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