14 February 2018

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5 Unified Communications Tools Your Company Should Be Using Right Now

Unified Communications by Tom Collins

Over 96 million people worldwide work remotely at least some of the time. Within two years, over 70 percent of U.S. workers will use a combination of desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets to work across devices.

It’s no secret that the workplace has changed drastically alongside technology.

Driving productivity with the right business communication tools in 2018 requires technology that’s flexible, mobile, and unified. These factors have driven the rapid growth of Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS), or hosted cloud communications tools for businesses. By bringing all of your multimedia communications tools into a single platform, companies are achieving new efficiency and transparency across business locations and industries.

UCaaS integrates all of your apps into a single, easy-to-use portal, including email, presence, video conferencing, text messages, file-sharing, and more. This all-in-one portal for client and coworker communications is cloud-based and accessible from any device.

Countless real firms like Montgomery College and TiVo have unlocked remarkable business benefits with UCaaS, thanks to new features that support the way people really work in 2018. Read on to learn details about the best UCaaS features on the market today, and use cases for how they could transform the way you work.

5 UCaaS Features to Adopt in 2018

1. Voice

32% percent of today’s customers surveyed recently described the phone as the “most frustrating” channel for customer service. If you read between the lines, that means the vast majority--68 percent--still prefer the phone to other customer service methods like email, chat, or social media. Like it or not, voice messaging may not be the only way your employees or customers communicate in 2018, but it’s still likely the predominant business communications tool.

Voice as a UCaaS feature can significantly reduce the costs of your business voice calls, especially if your organization has a lot of long-distance or international calls to make. Today’s cloud PBX tools offer rich, high-quality voice features like trunking, messaging, conference calling, call queuing, and interactive voice recognition (IVR).

These cost savings can mount further for businesses with a great deal of inbound calls with UCaaS features for contact center environments. With integration with customer service apps and smarter call routing, real companies have shaved up to 10 seconds off their average call handling time. Better yet, if your call volume fluctuates seasonally requiring you to scale your contact center lines up or down, these changes can be made instantaneously with minimal cost.

2. Mobility First

50% of today’s professionals use a smartphone or other mobile device as their primary work “computer.” We’re officially at a mobile tipping point. Today’s best UCaaS solutions don’t just offer mobility as a feature, they offer mobile-first capabilities that support full business communications from mobile.

Leading UCaaS mobility solutions enable workers to continue responding to messages while participating in a voice or video call without having to switch apps. They also offer “deep integration” or the ability to plug-and-play with your existing business apps, like Excel and Salesforce.

The workforce is also increasingly adopting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) as a solution for some employees. UCaaS can make secure work from an employee’s device possible by creating boundaries between personal calls and texts and work communications. This includes the use of both the personal and work phone number from the same device while keeping corporate data under wraps.

3. Unified Messaging

Unified messaging is a UCaas feature that provides employees with easy, unified access to all of their messages across channels, from a single portal. This eliminates the possibility of missed information that can all-too-easily occur when you’re checking email, voicemail, chat messages, project management software comments, and more from separate platforms or apps.

Better yet, leading UCaaS platforms like BroadSoft's UC-One Communicator are designed for the needs of today’s mobile worker, who can't always listen to the audio of a voicemail message. From any device, they can click to access voice, video, fax, and email from a single inbox that resembles popular messaging apps. Voice messages are even transcribed for easy review in meetings.

Take a look inside a leading UCaaS app in A Professional Review of the BroadSoft Platform.

Yesterday’s cubicles and desk phones aren’t a part of how many of us work today. Instead, today’s workers may share open office space, collaborate with global teams, or maintain communications with coworkers while they’re traveling for work. Unified Messaging makes it easy to do everything you need, from click to return a client’s call or participate in group messages with a project team, from a single app.

4. Audio Conferencing

UCaaS and other web conferencing technologies have significantly extended the idea of business meetings to include global teams. By the end of 2018, the total market for business conferencing technology is projected to reach a worth of $35.6 billion. Today’s workers would much rather dial into a meeting than attend in person, especially given that researchers estimate people are 13 percent more productive at home than at the office.

Unified Communications supports your employees’ need to participate in audio conferences on-the-fly, and even switch between audio and multimedia communication modes like screen sharing or video chat. You can invite coworkers to join the call when you're already on the line in real-time. It’s just as easy to collaborate on a second’s notice with UCaaS audio conferencing as it is to stop by a coworker’s desk in the office.

Read more about how UCaaS can support collaboration at multi-location businesses in Unified Communication and Collaboration Tools: Make the Cloud Work For You.

5. Video Chat

82 percent of workers admit they’re less likely to multi-task (and more likely to pay attention) on a video call. 89 percent think video chat makes it easier to get group projects done efficiently, while 90 percent think it’s easier to get their point across.

Video chat can offer serious advantages over voice calls for certain contexts, like collaboration and negotiation. It’s easier to capture non-verbal communication through video, and more natural to feel a sense of connection when you’re talking face-to-face. Adopting UCaaS video conferencing features could drastically reduce the amount of business travel needed and improve productivity.

UCaaS video chat can also transform the way you think about video, even if you're already using standalone apps for this purpose. Since video is transmitted as HD audio and unlimited calling is generally included, you may reduce the costs significantly. Integrations with apps for document management and calendar make it easy to share information and schedule video talks.

Tools like BroadSoft’s UC-One Conference Room also make it easy, even from mobile, to set up a meeting with people inside and outside your company or simply click to join.

The Right UCaaS Features Can Change Everything

Some of the most beneficial UCaaS features are remarkably unsurprising. Chances are, your company is already using communication technologies like audio conferencing and mobile apps. The difference between the standalone apps you're already using to chat and message and the leading UCaaS options is the fact Unified Communications is designed for today’s mobile-first workplace. It’s easy with UCaaS to work, collaborate and communicate productively from any device or anywhere in the world.

While UCaaS features can drive productivity and collaboration for your company, they’re not the only angle to think about. It’s important to evaluate vendors on experience, platform, customer satisfaction, value, and more. To learn more, instantly download the free eBook: 10 Questions To Ask Before You Buy Unified Communications as a Service. Atlantech_Unified-Communications-as-a-Service_UCaaS







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t-tom-collins

About the author:

Tom Collins (Twitter, LinkedIn) - is the Director of Enterprise Sales & Marketing for Atlantech Online. He has over 20 years of professional experience in the Internet Service Provider industry and is known for translating technology into positive results for business. A native of Washington, DC, a graduate from University of Maryland (degrees in Government & Politics and Secondary Education), Tom is also a five-time Ironman finisher.

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