Why Unified Communications is in Your Future
by Donna Fluss and Randy Brewton, DMG Consulting
Unified Communications (UC) is a term that we hear vendors discussing. But few business managers appreciate what it means and why it’s important. The primary reason why UC deserves attention is that it will soon play a leading role in the handling of most customer interactions, whether via phone, email, Web, chat, video, or other channels. IT managers have to care about UC because they will need to support a variety of UC-based technologies and applications, including private branch exchanges (PBXs), unified messaging, email, chat, SMS, real-time video, and an assortment of enterprise collaboration tools and applications.
What is Unified Communications?
DMG has defined Unified Communications as a technology framework that helps organizations provide a standardized user interface and user experience across multiple applications, devices and channels. It integrates real-time and non-real-time communications services. The real-time communications services include: Internet Protocol (IP) telephony, presence, call control, speech control, instant messaging (IM)/chat, and conferencing (voice and video). This allows enterprises to shape technology to fit their business needs, instead of forcing businesses to adapt to their technology.
UC promises to deliver next-generation telephony products and services that provide communication efficiencies, standardization of technologies, and facilitate integration and interoperability of third-party products and applications. (For more details, see DMG’s Unified Communication Report, “Is Unified Communications the Next ’Disruptive” Customer Service Technology?")
Benefits of Unified Communications
Although the vendors continue to struggle to build a strong business case and identify tangible benefits that yield a high return on investment (ROI), UC has many advantages. These benefits include:
- Collaboration: The typical enterprise work environment requires real-time collaboration between co-workers, business partners and clients using advanced data sharing and communications devices and services. Real-time collaboration facilities the live development and sharing of ideas and documents among multiple parties in various locations; UC can greatly reduce the costs and time spent on travel.
- Presence: In today’s fast-paced work environments, individuals are seldom reachable in a timely manner by traditional communications methods (phone, email, voicemail). Presence reduces the unproductive time spent tracking down available users and waiting for responses to messages left in email and voicemail systems by allowing individuals to see the real-time availability of other associates on their network, as well as their preferred method of communication.
- Devices: Mobility is growing in importance as individuals increasingly use smart devices to complete their daily tasks. Business and IT managers can utilize UC tools to enhance business communications by extending communication services to these devices and allowing users to instantly transition between them. With UC, for example, a user can seamlessly transition from a call initially established on their cellular phone to their desk phone, without ever having to vacate the original session. This allows users to stay active and keeps the conversation progressing without interruption.
- Extensibility: UC enables business managers to extend their business services and tools to remote and mobile workers and partners, allowing recruitment and expansion of staff in areas where they may not previously have had access. This can accelerate entrance into new markets and increase the availability of a knowledgeable workforce.
- Access: Through a UC interface, remote users can access critical business processes and systems and enterprise applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), and other data management and reporting utilities. This gives a mobile workforce real-time access to internal and partner information that can be utilized for functions such as customer communications, pricing and negotiations.
Next Steps for your Enterprise
UC is the future of telephony and, like it or not, it needs to be part of your communications strategy going forward. It can improve the way your organization communicates internally and externally with customers, prospects, partners, investors, etc. Business and IT managers should work together to identify the tangible and intangible benefits of UC that yield the most value for your specific environment.
DMG is working closely with companies of all sizes to help build practical and cost-effective UC strategies for their enterprise and contact centers. Give us a call if you’re looking for help in building your UC strategy, justifying the investment, and/or determining how to roll it out without disrupting your business.
DMG Consulting LLC (www.dmgconsult.com) specializes in customer-focused business strategy, operations, and technology for contact centers. DMG helps end users build differentiated contact centers by increasing operational efficiency, providing outstanding customer experiences, enhancing loyalty, and increasing sales and profits. For more information, please contact Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Donna Fluss at email@example.com.