The concept of Unified Communications has been bandied about in the media for years, offering companies a streamlined, convenient way to consolidate communications across the enterprise and beyond its traditional borders. To date, however, organisations have been hampered in gaining the full benefits of Unified Communications due to a disconnect between the potential benefits and the realities of high costs and a lack of supporting hardware.
“Today, however, as a mobile workforce becomes more of a norm and managers accept that seeing workers at their desks does not translate into productivity and bottom-line benefits, Unified Communications has become a necessity,” says Paulo Ferreira, Head of Product and Software Solutions at Samsung. “Unified Communications is no longer an issue of technology, but more about management, customer service and productivity.”
With the appearance and amazing growth of powerful new technologies such as tablets and smart phones, businesses are able to know their employees are instantly contactable wherever they are, while the staff have full access to the information they need, whenever they need it, as well as to whoever they need.
“These tools, combined with Unified Communication software, enable companies to empower staff productivity and availability wherever they are,” adds Ferreira. “This cuts out the need to travel more than necessary, reduces costs and keeps people in front of customers. It also makes measuring the real contribution of employees easier since their virtual presence and activities are all available to management.”
Unified Communications goes beyond simply having a cellular number that reaches you almost everywhere, to being connected to the corporate infrastructure at all times. Using the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for voice calls, for example, helps to control telephony costs by putting a permanent business extension in the hands of all employees via any device they choose. The systems then direct calls to the user’s device of choice via the most cost-effective route, including the organisation’s internal network as well as the Internet, totally transparent to the people involved.
By the same token, decent broadband connectivity allows video conferences to be held with local and remote staff, without the high set-up costs traditionally associated with video conferencing solutions. Even popular consumer applications allow for integrated meetings between desktop, cellular and tablet users, via any network connection available, and includes the sharing of desktops or documents for collaborative work.
“It’s not that these technologies are revolutionary, but they are now within easy reach of every business and simple enough for the average user to master,” concludes Ferreira. “More importantly, they are built on standards that allow for unified communications across enterprise borders as well as multiple software and hardware platforms. It’s now up to the business world to take advantage of the solutions readily available to enhance its competitive edge and reduce costs while improving customer service levels.”