The new productive workforce
Posted on June 25, 2018
Unified Communications tools optimise the world of communications we have at our fingertips. In business, UC enables a flexible and more productive workforce, as well as reducing cost by streamlining processes. Like many technologies, UC advancements are constantly evolving and improving to make our lives easier and our business, more efficient, where even your very presence can be monitored. We examine some of the best known options and why these tools are increasingly popular in workplaces.
What is UC?
Unified Communications, or UC, describes integrated enterprise communications. These are a set of products or communication tools which provide a user with an automated, unified experience across diverse devices and different hardware.
UC tools are a technological architecture of commonly used communication techniques combined in one place, rather than separately managed entities. It’s been described as ‘the Swiss-army knife of communications’ for businesses.
This field includes all forms of communications which are transmitted over a network. It includes one-to-one communications, as well as broadcast communications to many and can be in synchronous (real-time communication), or asynchronous (not in real-time) communication. Due to its versatility, UC is used by business enterprise as well as individuals.
Almost any communications service can be integrated as part of a UC platform. These include integrated messaging and multimedia services such as IP Telephony, voicemail, email or video conferencing, instant messaging, call screening, desktop sharing, online data services, interactive whiteboard ― in fact any communications which can be imagined.
The advantages of UC are numerous. Primarily, it boosts productivity in many ways.
With the increasing trend of today's busy schedules, disparate workforces and remote operations, teams rarely meet in-person, all at once. In providing a consistent end-user experience, UC tools allow all team members using the same applications to easily collaborate in real-time, and on a more ad-hoc basis. Team members are able to respond and action actual work as needed, without the burden of contributing to inbox overload, wading through long email threads or trying to find information between various different sources.
The uniform experience of UC also enables a workforce to be more flexible. Communications systems are able to seamlessly integrate within the corporate office as well as remote business systems; the system operates on an employee’s own personal devices, such as smartphones and tablets, as it does on the office desktop computer.
The use of third-party applications benefits internal enterprise IT teams also. Applications are operated within a common environment, reducing the necessity to monitor unfamiliar network usage for bandwidth management and data security.
In addition, UC platforms tend to be cloud-based. Infrastructure and complexity move into the cloud, enabling a business to further reduce cost.
While UC is constantly evolving and the integration can take many forms, its purpose remains the same. And that is to offer a competitive advantage. By enhancing communications, reducing latency, managing work flows and eliminating dependencies on particular devices or media, UC tools optimise business processes and efficiencies.
While their principal remain consistent, different platforms integrate various communication tools in different ways. While still in their infancy, UC is streamlining the way people communicate.
We take a closer look at two of the many existing platforms and how UC could shape the future of synchronous and asynchronous communications.
Slack: where work happens
Slack was touted as the ‘email killer’ when it was first released, as it was initially a simple way to combine messages into one space. While it has not lived up to its own early hype, Slack is an effective cloud-based message platform, enabling streamlined collaboration within teams.
Slack is a flexible, integrated chat platform for teams, divided into channels to create a collaboration hub. It also integrates voice calls, either one-to-one or group calls to any team member within a direct list.
Like any good platform, Slack can be easily augmented and customised with a couple of clicks. Slack offers Skype integration, where up to 10 participants can join a group video call and up to 25 team members can interact on a voice call. Other solutions can also be integrated into Slack easily, such as Google Hangouts, Drum Meetings, Room, Zoom, Videolink2.me and ClickMeeting. Slack even integrates now with other tools such as RocketBolt and Trello, making client notes and project management even easier.
The easy integration of many different apps and solutions means that the platform can be easily tailored towards a business’s specific needs.
While the need for email has not been replaced by a UC platform such as Slack, both have evolved to service different purposes. Slack serves collaboration in real time versus email where real-time communications aren’t as necessary or where a conversation needs to be separate from others. A system like Slack supplements email and increases the productivity of a team.
As well as an increasing number of integrated apps, Slack also uses a multitude of automated bots, some of who can assign tasks to teammates, manage expenses, run meetings, detect air quality in your current location and even track the happiness of team mates.
Cisco Webex Teams
Cisco Webex was known, up until recently, as Cisco Spark. It is a set of integrated, cloud-based tools which enables a combination of wireless presentation tools, such as digital whiteboarding and video conferencing. Like all UC apps, everything can be found within one platform.
The strengths of Webex lies in its conference call services. It focuses on webinars and web meetings, making it easy to attend and schedule meetings. It can host up to 100 participants per meeting and allows for mobile phone collaboration for team members away from their computers.
Webex also has interactive polling features, web tours, whiteboard functions, VoIP, chat and survey capabilities. This system enables seamless sharing of desktops, applications or documents ― all done in real time.
Regardless of the collaboration platform, at the core is a strong, resilient high-performance data network. Without the performance, utilisation takes a back seat and organisations can be left with yet another technology sitting in the ‘cupboard that no-one talks about’.
Call Vocus on 1300 88 99 88 to discuss more about what Unified Communications tools can do for your business.