25 July 2017

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Unified Communication and Collaboration Tools: Make the Cloud Work For You

Unified Communications by Tom Collins

The average professional spends 19 percent of their time searching for information and trying to gather the right resources. If you're assuming these individuals all put in 40 hours each week, that's 7.6 hours or nearly an entire weekday spent trying to navigate technology that feels unnatural, confusing, or just not unified.

The most effective organizations in 2017 have likely figured out how to use the right technologies in the right ways. Social Technologies that support interactions between colleagues and aggregate information into convenient platforms, such as Unified Communications in the cloud, can revolutionize the way firms work. In fact, some research suggests that implementing tools for communicating and collaborating can increase productivity by 20 to 25 percent.

Mobile technologies and the cloud have opened doors for organizations to design remote or global teams, which can allow for global access to talent, more diverse perspectives on a team, and the possibility for employees to work remotely. While effective communication in business is rarely easy, the latest generation of cloud-based Unified Communication tools help your people work together in ways that feel natural. They also support productivity by helping people find the right information exactly when they need it.

Technology Now Supports the Way Humans Want to Communicate and Collaborate

In 2017, technology is more than just a tool for workplace collaboration. In many cases, organizations who use the right technology find that it's the very basis of how their talent works together. If you consider the fact that 30 years ago, business meetings were reliant on in-person attendance or a phone line, the change in how we work is pretty remarkable.

Even in recent years, technology designed for business communications has evolved significantly. In 2000, there were no customer relationship management tools (CRM) that automatically populated your leads and customers' social media data. By all expert accounts, the tools we have available today have allowed us to work more effectively together, regardless of location, than at any other point in history.

"Collaboration technology sprang up 20 years ago, but we kept acting, behaviorally, like we did when we were meeting face to face," states author and collaboration expert Keith Ferrazzi. However, Unified Communication tools like video conferencing and internal social media networks finally allow us to engage in ways that feel natural and face-to-face, even if you're actually working with team members in four different time zones.

So mobile communications are great, connecting via video is beneficial and social engagement boosts productivity -- doesn't that sound like an awful lot of digital clutter to keep track of?

How Unified Communications Tools Support 5 Habits of Collaborative Companies

Forbes' Jacob Morgan has a bit of a self-admitted fascination with collaboration. This fascination drove him to research "hundreds of companies" to discover the patterns, working habits, and technologies that separate the most effective firms from their competition. Through this research, he uncovered that despite the fact that no two organizations are the same, the most collaborative firms are more likely to have some characteristics in common, some of which are very briefly summarized below:

  1. Individual Focus
  2. Strategy
  3. Metrics
  4. Agility
  5. Customer-Focus

None of these five attributes are based exclusively on technology. In fact, you could argue that some are highly cultural in nature. However, Unified Communications tools in the cloud can support any organization's initiative to become more collaborative in each of these twelve ways. Here's how:

1. Unified Communications Supports Individual Benefit

At the most collaborative organizations, per Morgan's research, decisions are made with both individual benefit and collective corporate benefit in mind. Unified Communications tools can be customized to benefit every individual in your entire organization, via easy access to information and the right tools. '

Cloud-based applications, like Broadsoft's Hub, allow your employees to gain access to a personalized, virtual cloud aggregation service. Through one platform, accessible via desktop or mobile device, they are able to conveniently find all of their information, voicemails, chat messages, alerts, and files in a single location. Cloud-based communication tools can provide every individual with a technology experience that's easy-to-use and personalized.

2. Unified Communications Supports a Strategy-Based Mindset

When it comes to effective collaboration, strategy should come before technology. Modifying your processes to fit a new technology is likely to result in mistakes, confusion, and people who are struggling to just do their jobs correctly. By selecting technology that can be molded to your goals, your firm is far more likely to succeed.

Unified Communications tools are highly-customizable to individual organizational needs, even in complex use cases like Montgomery College. With three campuses, this large community college needed a three-day implementation and flexible access to a broad range of tools and apps. With the help of Atlantech Online and Broadsoft, Montgomery College's successful implementation was based on strategy, not the needs of their vendor or the limitations of their technology.

3. Unified Communications Supports Smart Decision Making

It's not the metrics that matter, it's what you're measuring and how you apply this knowledge. The most effective organizations know what matters to their customers and employees, and commit to measurement and improvement. Unified Communications tools can offer leadership a new level of transparency into how employees communicate internally and externally.

With the help of cloud-based tools developed by Broadsoft, leadership can gain total visibility into how employees are using available apps to share files, conduct video conferencing, and communicate. Solutions like CC-One, for contact centers, allow instant visualization of call routing workflows and an understanding of key customer service metrics such as wait time, average number of transfers, and first-call resolution.

There's not much information to be gained from data on how many emails your average employee sends in a day, or contact center metrics like average call time. Unified Communications tools aggregate data from all of your cloud apps into a single, convenient location allowing organizations to understand how their people really work and serve the customers, and improve accordingly.

4. Unified Communications Offers Agility

Blockbuster had the brick-n-mortar video rental market mastered. Netflix, took a mail-order dvd approach. Netflix had the foresight to see technology moving to streaming and away from physical discs. They formulated a plan to start migrating to streaming only before the technology could even handle it. When their customers arrived to the point where they preferred streaming over physical discs, Netflix was already there.

Around the time Netflix was dedicated to going completely streaming, Blockbuster was trying to get it's mail-order service going to compete with Netflix. But, by that time, Netflix, and the public, had already moved on.

What separates firms like Netflix and Blockbuster, is their foresight to adapt to new technologies, and their ability to change accordingly. With the nature of technology today, if a business is caught "catching up" to technology, it's probably already too late.

The optimal communication and collaboration apps for your organization today may not be the same as what you need to work effectively in 3 years. Fortunately, Unified Communications as a Service, delivered through a hosted cloud vendor, is inherently flexible, and supports your need for agility.

Unified Communications allows your organization to pay exactly for the service you receive, since its billed by phone lines and add-on applications. With emerging possibilities like DirectConnect to the Equinix Cloud Exchange via Atlantech Online, you may never have to wait on technology again. Organizations who choose to direct connect to the cloud, gain on-demand access to thousands of vendors, the ability to deploy services in real-time, and unlimited potential for innovation.

To learn more, we recommend: 5 Ways Direct Connection to the Cloud is Impacting Business Innovation.

5. Unified Communications Results in Happy Customers

Without happy customers, your organization can't operate. However, Morgan's research confirms the well-known connection between employee happiness and working habits, and client satisfaction. If your employees can't figure out how to internally transfer a call, your customers won't experience issue resolution. In contrast, if your talent has the right tools at their fingertips to provide highly-effective customer service, everyone wins.

Unified Communications tools enable a superior customer experience in many ways. Your customers won't know that you've adopted new cloud-based platforms for internal communication, but they'll be impressed by the speed and efficacy of the service they receive. Some examples of ways cloud collaboration tech can improve the customer experience include:

  • Data Integration: By integrating your CRM with your customer communication channels, your customer-facing employees can gain the full picture from the moment a client calls--including their messages via chat, email, phone, and their organization's profile.
  • Multi-Channel Communications: Not every client has the time or energy to make a call. UC can support your need to offer superior service however your clients want to reach you, including web conferencing, chat, social media, website forms, email, and phone.
  • Smarter Call Routing: With technologies like interactive voice recognition (IVR) and flexible call routing workflows, your organization can continually work to reduce the number of call transfers experienced by your customers and optimize for first-call resolution.

Unified Communications Tools Facilitate Human Connection & Collaboration

It's hard for your employees to be happy, productive, and effective if they're juggling dozens of disparate apps for file sharing, chatting with their coworkers, answering emails, and updating customer profiles. Technology can improve or detract from the way your organization works. Even if you use great collaboration tools, if they are used in ineffective ways, it can still be a recipe for disaster.

Everyone wants to be effective at their job and go home at the end of the day feeling like they've done well. By aggregating your communication tools and apps into a simple user experience via Unified Communications delivered through the cloud, your firm can support people's need for a productive, intuitive work experience regardless of whether they're working from the office or at home.

Adopting the right Unified Communications tools can support your need to adopt a culture that's supportive of collaboration and human relationships. To learn more about how Unified Communications can provide you with the means for a customer-focused, agile culture and receive a no-obligation quote on cloud communications delivered via Broadsoft's leading mobile-first platform, contact Atlantech Online today.Download Now







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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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