8 Reasons Why You Need Unified Communications in 2022

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Ashley HalcombResearcher and Writer at CloudBanking and Switchconnect

Monday, December 20, 2021

With business models continuously evolving, having unified communications on your side is essential to remain competitive and accomplish your business goals.

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8 Reasons Why You Need Unified Communications in 2022
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It was business as usual as January of 2020 rolled in. Plans made the year prior were taking shape and form as people worked tirelessly to see them come to fruition. Towards the end of March of that same year, everything came to a stop. COVID-19 appeared, then the pandemic began.

This event altered everything we have become accustomed to and halted all of us in our tracks. We were all dumbstruck, looking at doors that we dare not open because of the unseen danger lurking outside.  In the weeks and months ahead, we tried to cope with safety restrictions and health protocols while still trying to maintain some semblance of a normal life. Together, we came up with ‘the new normal’.

One of the elements of this ‘new normal’ is how we managed to remain connected to one another, especially in the business sector. Business enterprises needed to remain relevant in their market’s minds, after all. And slowly, with greater emphasis on safety, businesses from small and medium-sized enterprises to large corporations began to adopt unified communications.

What is Unified Communication?

Unified communication (UC) is a leading technology-based concept that aims to integrate enterprise communication functions such as chat, call, video conferencing, data sharing and other collaboration-heavy requirements of any organization into one reliable and interoperable system.

UC enables collaboration in real-time without incurring high costs on technology upgrades by providing you with the tools, apps and systems to fuel collaboration in your business. Without it, employees confined to the four walls of their homes won’t be able to fully contribute to business progress. Without employees paddling in unison, business is dead.

Looking back at the rise of unified communications

The concept of unifying communications isn’t new. In fact, it’s been around since the mid-90s where there arose the need to integrate voice communications, messages and online presence within one platform. This need led to the development of digital communication channels and legacy PBXs.

Fast forward to 2019, and unified communications solutions have greatly evolved—what with cloud-based platforms and various tools and features having been developed to address customer demands. They’ve advanced so much in fact that, when the pandemic hit, some businesses were more than able to adopt to the new need, ensuring business continuity in the face of the global lockdown.

Digital evolution

If the concept of unified communications solutions is still a bit hazy for you, look at some names that would surely be familiar:—Microsoft Teams, Google Suite and Zoom. These are just some of the industry giants that offer unified communications solutions.

Pre-pandemic, digital users were slow on the uptake of unified communications as a platform for their daily online interactions. What the pandemic did was to emphasize the need for these solutions for the modern business, especially with the mass exodus to remote working where employees needed to have a flexible and user-friendly platform for communication and collaboration.

Look at Microsoft Teams as an example. Using Teams, employees can send chat messages, make and accept voice or video calls, share files and collaborate real-time and even schedule meetings. Of course, these are not the only capabilities of Microsoft Teams—but they highlight how employees are able to send and receive information through a variety of mediums in one unified platform.  

To further illustrate, imagine a co-worker sends you a voicemail. Using Teams, you have the option to listen to the message using your phone, or, if you’re on your laptop, through your email. After that, you have the option to use chat, email or voice mail to send your response. It’s entirely up to you, the user, as to which facet of unified communication to use.

8 reasons why you need unified communications

1. It drives employee productivity

With a geographically dispersed workforce, the challenge is to ensure that all employees have access to tools and files as and when they’re needed. When this is achieved, employees can drive productivity even when working from remote locations.

The chat function is especially useful as it allows employees to continue the engagement following an audio or video conferencing session.

2. File-sharing for easy collaboration

Another major challenge that unified communications systems have addressed is providing real-time access to working files. Regardless of industry, file sharing through unified communications is real-time and highly collaborative. Colleagues can work together on a single file in real-time, eliminating the need to save multiple versions of one file that could cause confusion to the project’s team members. File access can also be granted by the original owner.

3. Upgraded communication without the high cost

Chances are that early adopters of unified communications already had the technology and network infrastructure in place when they did so, but even with just the basic systems and platforms on hand, you can still adopt unified communications solutions as it doesn’t require massive technological investment. This leverages increased communication capabilities vis-a-vis low technology costs. At a bare minimum, you need an internet service provider, a router and modem and a capable PC, and you and your employees will have supplied the mobile devices to talk to each other.

4. Improved customer experience

Modern businesses are paying even greater attention to customer experience than any other time in history. This fact is supported by a study that showed that 81% of businesses compete on the basis of customer experience. Having an effective unified communications platform is key to winning on this front.

Unified communications makes it easier for customers to access your business, and being able to do so using any platform improves your brand image in their minds.

5. Improved agility

Businesses need to be agile in order to remain competitive. To do this, users from business organizations must have a clear understanding of what unified communication is and its myriad of functions. Once this is clear to all stakeholders, leveraging unified communication to improve agility becomes second nature. To illustrate: if you are a retail business owner, you can engage with customers using the omnichannel approach—social media, chat, even voice calls. With this capability, you can enhance CRM and improve CX.

Yet another advantage of UC is giving your employees the ability to hold audio or video conferencing wherever they may be. This is especially useful in the utilities sector, where field engineers may consult with colleagues, say, in the maintenance of vital public service infrastructure in preparation for a coming storm or flood. This type of mobility enables different sectors to address concerns that without UC would have taken far longer to resolve.

6. Remote work support

While legacy PBX systems are still in use, they’re fast going obsolete with cloud-based unified communications solutions. With the surge of remote work setup brought on by the restrictions due to the pandemic, having the ability to support remote work ensures business continuity and productivity. Unified Communications platforms such as Microsoft Teams are replete with features and tools that remote workers can use to their full advantage in the completion of tasks and projects.

Imagine being able to connect with colleagues and clients with the tap of a button and doing presentations for your client’s approval or feedback—all with the ability to collaborate real-time. This kind of flexibility for businesses is truly a game changer.

7. Streamlined IT

Before the advent of unified communications, employees resorted to using shadow IT, or systems and platforms not fully authorized by their companies, in order to drive their productivity up. However, this opens up the entire network to possible hacking, compromising company and client data and ultimately, their business reputation.

Having a singular, reliable unified communications solution frees up the IT department of business organization to focus on other matters as these systems and tools have robust, multi-tiered security protocols such as encrypted chat to ensure that data is accessible only to authorized users and personnel. Even within the organization, data access can be configured to only those who needs it.

8. Increase in AI in UC applications

We saved the best for last, as artificial intelligence (ai) in UC is the next evolution in the unified communications space. While integrating communication tools such as chat and voice calling and teleconferencing into a singular platform was a positive step forward, AI takes it to the next level.

Artificial intelligence-driven tools such as meeting transcription or chatbot meeting scheduling are just two examples of AI applications in unified communication. Having these tools frees up valuable time for workers to focus on other tasks, especially for accountant and lawyers that have a multitude of files to be audited and meetings needing transcription. With the right unified communication solution to hand, worker efficiency is greatly improved.

Ashley Halcomb

Researcher and Writer at CloudBanking and Switchconnect

Ashley is a researcher and a freelance content writer for CloudBanking and Switchconnect. She is an ongoing learner and always curious to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a marketing guru, to write about subjects valuable to merchants on the CloudBanking and Switchconnect blog.

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