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Transform your workplace with unified communications

Posted on April 14, 2020

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Unified communications (UC) tools optimise the world of communications available at our fingertips. UC enables a flexible and more productive workforce in addition to reducing costs by streamlining processes. 

UC advancements are constantly evolving and improving to make our lives easier and our businesses more efficient, but the options can be overwhelming if you’re not familiar with them. Keep reading to get a better understanding of what UC is and the pros and cons of what’s available. 

What is unified communications?

UC is a suite of integrated enterprise communications tools and services accessible through one central platform. That means users get an automated, unified experience across different devices and hardware.

Some of the capabilities that can be integrated into a UC platform include voice and video calling, multi-party conferencing, instant messaging, presence awareness, desktop and file sharing services, and more. Since these services are hosted in the cloud, you can access your services in most locations and enjoy updated software and new features as they become available. UC allows you to connect and collaborate with stakeholders on any device, from anywhere, at any time.

Benefits of unified communications

1. Productivity

Coordinating between busy schedules can make efficient communication a challenge. UC services combine a disparate set of tools, accessible through one central platform and enabling your workforce to seamlessly connect and collaborate with each other, regardless of where they are located. Be more productive with the limited time that you have.

In providing a consistent end-user experience, UC tools allow all team members using the same applications to easily collaborate more frequently in real-time. They can 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 sources.

2. Flexibility & scalability

UC also enables a more flexible workforce. Systems integrate just as well in the corporate office as they do in the real world, including employees’ personal devices. As business needs change, so can your UC experience. Add or remove new users, change storage capacity, and enable or disable features as required.

3. Resiliency

Since these platforms are hosted in the cloud, they’re secure and reliable, with services often backed by your provider’s service level agreements. For added peace of mind, providers can offer additional disaster recovery and high availability options to ensure services are operational and the impacts of an outage are minimised.

4. Simple management

Applications operate within a common environment, which may include third-party applications, reducing the complexities of managing separate platforms. Your provider usually performs software upgrades along with monitoring and reporting, minimising internal IT resourcing.

5. Reduced costs

UC platforms tend to be cloud-based with a monthly fee charged to access services. Pay only for the services used with the ability to add additional features, devices, and equipment as required. Line costs and PBX infrastructure complexities are moved into the cloud, further reducing costs.

UC’s competitive advantages are already strong and will only continue increasing as technology advances¬—workplaces that don’t adapt are likely to be left behind. So if you’re a business that wants to optimise processes and efficiencies, improve communications across sites, and reduce latency, it’s time to give UC a closer look.

Unified communications platforms

While their principles remain consistent, different platforms integrate various communication tools in different ways. It is important to assess the capabilities of a UC solution and understand if it will help you achieve your business outcomes.

We take a closer look at three of the many existing platforms and uncover how UC could shape the future of synchronous and asynchronous communications. 

Zoom Collaboration

Zoom Collaboration is your one platform which makes business communications frictionless. It's a video-first unified communications platform, allowing you to connect to your teams flexibly, from any location and across multiple devices. It provides video meetings, voice, webinars and chat across conference room systems, desktop devices, mobiles and tablets. Plus, you can optimise your solution with access to the Zoom App Marketplace, providing business application integrations from Zoom and leading developers. 

The platform's modern cloud architecture provides a scalable and reliable experience for video, voice, and content. Access the latest software features and enhancements as they become available and with the peace of mind knowing that your services are secured. 

Vocus IP Tel 

Vocus IP Tel is a flexible, scalable unified communications solution that’s perfect for businesses with staff working across multiple sites and locations. It's designed for small businesses with a minimum of 20 users, up to large enterprise organisations. Powered by Cisco BroadWorks and hosted in the Vocus cloud, it combines your existing telephony with a suite of features enabling easier, more efficient collaboration, like virtual meeting tools, instant messaging, and file sharing.

IP Tel allows you to tailor your solution from a selection of feature packs, calling plans, add-on options, and additional handsets & conferencing devices to fit seamlessly into your business. Best of all, it is all available on a monthly subscription on an OPEX friendly basis.

IP Tel works on most devices and networks, giving you complete freedom to do what you need wherever you are. As a hosted cloud offering, your services are also secured and highly resilient with disaster recovery and business continuity options. 

Cisco Webex 

Cisco Webex offers 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’. 

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