The Implications of Unified Communications – Why a One-Stop-Shop Matters to Your Business
Those of us ‘in the business’ of communications have seen the evolution from basic dial tone to the adoption of unified communications (UC) over the past few years. Unlike traditional phone service, UC represents a new paradigm of communications and collaboration, combining multiple functions into a single integrated platform instead of siloed services. While many providers have attempted to define the term, the fact of the matter is that UC is essentially an umbrella term that encompasses several capabilities. Gartner, for example, only qualifies a provider as a ‘unified communications service provider’ if their service includes:
- Voice, telephony, and mobility support
- Audio conferencing, video conferencing and web conferencing
- Messaging, email with voicemail, unified messaging
- Desktop clients and thin browser clients
- Communications-enabled applications like integrated contact centers, communications platform-as-a-service, or workstream collaboration
As a business owner or IT manager, you may not be aware of the implications that UC can have on your communication and collaboration strategy. That’s perfectly OK because you’re in the business of ‘your business’ – not ours. That said, if you’re looking to make this shift to a UC solution, you need to consider the fact that all providers are not equal. The features and functions that one provider places under the UC umbrella may not line up with the offering of a different provider. Rather than attempting an apples to apples comparison, it’s best to look for a provider that can meet your business needs of today and the future.
Looking to the future
A provider that brings the total UC package to the table will be able to address all of your communication needs. While you may require a reliable voice platform with video conferencing today, your future business plans may include remote workers, additional business locations, a larger contact center, or some other expansion that you haven’t even considered yet. Locking yourself into a provider that can’t address the growth of your business with additional services under one roof can make for a frustrating experience down the road. Take the time to think through what is going to move the needle for your organization. Often, purchasing decisions are too narrowly focused on cost and overlook the long-term strategy of scaling the business and platforms over time.
There are a lot of providers out there, each with their own flavor of UC. Take a close look at your business, the challenges you face, and the features you require. Then give us a call, and we can help you find the right provider for your business.