Today’s SMBs use and need a variety of communication channels in order to be able to collaborate and work together effectively. Since the pandemic began and many businesses became remote, having the right communication platforms in place has become more important than ever. Conversations need to be able to take place effortlessly, and information needs to flow freely throughout the business. But with lots of different ways to communicate at our fingertips, it can make it harder to locate and track conversations and information.
This is where unified communications comes in.
In order to respond to the demands of knowing where information is at any time versus having multiple channels for information to be communicated, businesses need to implement a unified comms strategy.
What are unified communications?
Unified communications is a way of centralising all the channels and platforms your organisation uses into one workflow. Unified comms gives businesses that use a variety of tools and channels to work better visibility of these channels, a more streamlined, centralised infrastructure and lets you manage your communications from anywhere. Your teams can still use different and multiple channels to communicate, but all communications are in a central location, with easy to find search so information can be quickly pinpointed.
So, what are the key components of a successful unified comms strategy? Here’s our top suggestions…
Ask your teams what they need
To get your unified comms right, it’s important to engage end users in the process. Ask them how they work, what would make their lives easier in terms of workplace communication and how a UC solution could change their way of working, good or bad. A UC solution can fundamentally change how your organisation communicates and interacts, both in-house and externally, so it needs to be the best for the business.
Make a business case
Unified communications solutions are rising in popularity at an exponential rate, but that doesn’t mean you should rush to get one implemented without considering the pros and cons, and most importantly, why the investment will be worth it for your business. Implementing a UC solution isn’t just another IT project; it could redefine how your entire company interacts, so it needs to be subject to scrutiny. As part of the business case for a UC solution, you need to clearly outline what you expect to gain from implementing it, how you expect it to benefit the business, potential risks and roadblocks to a successful implementation, and how you will deploy the solution and get users onboard.
Review your current comms
Some businesses already use a variety of communication platforms while others are stuck with outdated phone systems. Many organisations are somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. Wherever you sit on the spectrum, you should review your current communication systems to see which if any can be integrated into your unified comms strategy, and which need to go entirely. This means any investment you've made in existing technologies needn't go to waste, and their capabilities can be maximised.
Make sure it's truly unified
Unified comms need to be just that; unified in every way. Some organisations think they have implemented unified communications, but they aren’t actually experiencing or reaping the full benefits of unified comms, because they haven’t extended it across every communication channel – most often without integrating their telephony system. As a major communication channel, telephony is an integral part of any unified communications strategy and should be fully integrated and incorporated into your solution. Doing so will provide the best user experience and mean you feel the full redefining effects of unified comms, instead of stopping.
Let your strategy evolve
Like any technology, unified communications are constantly evolving. Even as you plan your UC deployment, advancements will be being made which improve upon the system you choose to implement and move it further along in terms of functionality and user experience. To have a successful UC strategy, you need to acknowledge the changing nature of UC. While immediate needs must be met, you should also try and future-proof your strategy and solution so that you aren’t hindered by cumbersome or static solutions. Regular reviews of your solution will let you measure the performance and efficacy of your unified communications solution against the initial aims and objectives you had in implementing it. Also be aware of the lifespan of your UC solution and its potential to be integrated with legacy systems.
In our research report, which we commissioned with our partner Wavenet, we look at the changes to work in 2020, how businesses have adapted and what IT teams need to take back control of a now remote workforce, including unified communications. Download our report here.