Firstly, how many communication platforms do you currently use?
For the majority of people, calls, text messages, emails, social media platforms and instant messaging services come as standard with everyday life. For businesses, you can also throw video conferencing, group messaging platforms and many other specialist services into the mix.
Now – and this one is also specifically for businesses – how many people do you currently employ, who use many or all of the above (or more), on any given day? Next, imagine a method of business and communications management that streamlines all of these services into a single, simple process.
As implausible as that may initially sound, the answer is unified communications and collaboration (or UCC or UC&C).
Where does it come from?
As digital technologies have become ubiquitous, global communication has been through a relentless process of growth and evolution over nearly the last 30 years. With communication companies constantly adding new channels and tweaking applications, it’s fair to say that the market has become saturated with a bafflingly wide variety of different products to choose from.
These products are usually either communication technologies, with text message services a typical example, or collaboration services such as Google Drive. With each product offering different pros, cons, prices and features, including advantages for smaller or larger workforces, many businesses are now looking for a solution to simplify their choices.
How does it work?
As Techopedia explains, UC&C allows “many different communication channels to be harmonized”, subsequently improving the efficiency of existing communication systems. It places multiple types of communication, including video, inbound and outbound call management, data management services and software applications, into a single interface.
Cloud-based, always connected and never switching off, this level of performance naturally results in a more comprehensive outlook of how business communications are performing. Real time communication of not only interactions but also essential documents and data means that teams and individuals anywhere around the globe are instantly and constantly connected to one another.
Is it important?
WhatTech reports that, following the growth of communication technologies, it will be collaboration tech – essentially meaning UC&C – that will witness the fastest growth over the next four years. This forecast is based on businesses taking a more precise interest in their overall communication and collaboration methods, and looking for a solution to the complexity of an overpopulated market.
So, it’s certainly important that businesses take an interest. Tech-savvy start-ups will be kicking off their new, entrepreneurial enterprises with a focus on UC&C, while larger organisations, as always, will look for ways to improve efficiency wherever possible. It’s businesses in the middle, neither new nor large, which will face the more awkward choices of when, not if, they make the same switch.
How will we benefit?
First things first – UC&C works through a single channel. This means one payment, based on the variety of services you use and the number of users you create. Therefore, if your communication channels are currently web-based and phone-based, and you subscribe to a variety of file sharing and storage services, you’re very likely to save money.
You’ll also be keeping up with the very latest trends from designers and developers around the world. Computer World highlights that even Microsoft has been moving from separate communication and business tools into dedicated, collaborative software. This will not only improve your existing workforce but also make you an ideal proposition for skilled, tech-savvy new employees.
As for your staff, both current and future – they’ll have the flexibility to work as efficiently when mobile as they do at their desk. When you make the most of flexible mobile services like Connect, there will no longer be a distinction between your desktop and mobile service capabilities – regardless of your location.
With collaborative tools comes collaborative learning, so you can also enhance your training and mentoring processes. From immediately relaying new information via web conferencing, to ensuring that everybody on your payroll is kept rigorously informed of business news, collaboration is now absolutely crucial. However, none of this would be possible without the real time communication services that tie it all together.