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How to Choose a Unified Communication Phone System

Around the globe, companies of all sizes—enterprises and small and mid-size businesses (SMB), face challenges to reduce capital investment and operational expenses. Particularly, IT budgets are coming under increased scrutiny while CEOs must simultaneously enhance customer satisfaction, increase revenues and boost profits.
Unified communications (UC) refers to a total business communication system. It consist of a convergence of various communication devices, including land lines, mobile phones, tablets email and video conferencing, and a range of programs, protocols and interfaces.
UC creates one integrated solution that provides streamlined connectivity between various users.

UC phone system

Small Businesses Need UC to Compete

Unlike enterprises that have the capital resources to invest in unified communication and scale their communication systems, SMBs must deal with diminishing IT budgets and obtain as much utility as possible out of the existing IT dollars.
Today's UC vendors offer alternatives, including cloud-based services, that reduce the capital costs and staffing expenses necessary to manage and maintain UC equipment and application services. Not all vendors offer the same service and support. If using cloud-based UC, make sure that the vendor publishes their performance publicly. ShoreTel Sky is an example of a vendor that reports their statistics in real-time at https://trust.shoretelsky.com/. This is a great way to gauge performance and transparency. 

Benefits of UC

Increasingly, more companies have discovered the appeal and advantages of a unified communication solution that elevates the utility of a standard business phone system beyond a dial tone and the ability to put clients on hold. Businesses understand the need for a single communications solution with the functionality and capabilities to manage multiple platforms and a broad array of tools.
A UC system not only makes your company more productive, but enhances your image by giving you the appearance of being larger and more competitive.
Here are the primary benefits of choosing a unified communication system for your business needs:
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) 

    Allow employees, vendor partners and other authorized users to access the network using their personal devices as well as company--approved IT devices, including smartphones, laptops and tablets.
  •  Mobility

    UC provides a seamless system that easily integrates with the existing technology to provide connectivity and system access for telecommuters and remote workers.
  •  Reduce Costs

    Realize savings on initial installation expenses and long-term operating costs.
  •  Better Customer Satisfaction

    Improve callers’ experience by using features like call queues, messaging, extension dialing for domestic and international, interactive voice response.
The flexibility and cost-effectiveness of  a unified communication system enable companies to take advantage of evolving economic and industry trends.

Meets Current and Future Business Needs

Many companies are a bit reluctant to change the business communication system. However once they understand the benefits to be gained from implementing a UC solution, most of the anxiety dissipates once the vendor identifies a solution that’s a right fit for the business. When making an investment in a new business phone system, it must be customizable to support the business needs of the existing staff and the size of the business.
Just as important, you must choose a solution that has the capacity to scale and grow with your company.
Smaller businesses have fewer resources. Therefore, they find UC solutions appealing because they can invest in a new communication system that provides superior functionality, affordability and ease of management. SMBs can now operate as a bigger business, absent the same costs and with a better return on investment.

Selecting UC Solution for Your Business

Once you have developed a business case for a new communication system, assess your readiness to move forward and research the different products and their advantages. The process includes working with an expert to create a comprehensive design. The plan needs to include the following:
  • Address the business needs for the various end users
  • Capture the technical requirements
  • Infrastructure validation
  • Evaluation of the network and site readiness
Depending on the evaluation, some businesses will seek a UC solution that can upgrade the exiting phone system, while other may start from scratch. The decision and implementation requires you to work with your service provider to assess the wide range of products and choose voice solutions based on those needs.
Next, build and test the unified communication solution you determine works best for your business. The process includes testing the recommended products by a varied group of end users before making a final decision about your audio and data requirements.
This ensures that the process moves along smoother and faster for users and the implementers. Furthermore, you will know that you are getting the right unified communication system.

UC is the Future of Business

Businesses of all sizes will continue to reduce payrolls, make business process more efficient, mine customer data and integrate communication devices. The functionality and capabilities of unified communication solutions make it a vital component for your organization's future success.
About the Author:
Joe Rittenhouse is the President of Business Development and a managing partner of Converged Technology Professionals Inc. His expertise is in business consulting/therapy specializing specifically in VOIP, Cloud Services, and Contact Centers. Joe’s experience in the IT demographic encompasses over two decades. Outside of work, Joe is a Husband and father of four. Joe is also a self-proclaimed seasoned tour veteran of the Grateful Dead. 

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