October 06, 2011, 9:46 AM — There are so many different ways to communicate with partners, customers and co-workers--by phone, email, instant messaging, fax, video conferencing, and social media. Managing each system separately is not only inefficient, but can cause conflicts since they all use the same underlying technology--the Internet.
Instead, establishing a single system to manage all digital means of communication allows for a single management interface, as well as integrated archiving and backups. Most importantly, with unified communications (UC) users get a single interface to access all messages. They can hear voice mails, answer emails, post Twitter or Facebook entries, send and receive faxes, and engages in video conferences from an single application, whether in the office or on the road. Here's why your company should invest in UC.
1. You'll reduce costs in the long run.
While implementing a UC strategy requires planning, an investment in new equipment, and considerable setup, the end result reduces costs for management as well as for phone services, fax machines, video conferencing, instant messaging, and so forth. With all of these now running over your Internet connection, you may need a faster or more reliable data pipeline, but that should cost less than multiple phone and fax lines.
2. It's easier for IT staff to keep one system running.
With unified communications, you typically manage systems through a single interface. Rather than monitoring multiple systems, there's only one to manage. Likewise, since all communications run through the Internet, you won't have to diagnose and distinguish between problems with a data or phone network--or worry about esoteric phone equipment.
3. Users spend less time dealing with separate programs.
While users need to be trained on the UC system, accessing all correspondence in one inbox will make their lives easier. For example, rather than opening an email, printing the results, and faxing them to send an order to a vendor, they can print the email directly to a fax server. They'll be able to listen to voicemail messages on any computer and forward them to other team members as easily as forwarding an email.
4. Backing up and archiving is much easier.