As we discovered in our recent Survive + Thrive research, the appetite for new strategies and technology is something that sets successful businesses apart from their competition. This means IT decision makers (whether that’s a small business owner or CIO of a global company) need to think carefully about what technologies they’ll be prioritising moving forward, in order to stay competitive and get ahead.
Some investment areas are easy to identify, like data security – especially in the wake of legislative changes such as GDPR. Others, like Unified Communications (UC), have been around for years and aren’t always as obvious. But they are important.What is Unified Communications?
It’s one of those terms that nearly everybody has heard, but it isn’t always immediately clear what it actually means. Gartner defines it as ‘products (equipment, software and services)’ which ‘facilitate the interactive use of multiple enterprise communications methods’. Tech.co, meanwhile, offers up a slightly clearer explanation: UC is the ‘term for the system that allows integration between all the communication forms and devices within a business, such as voice messages, online communications, data and even face to face contact’.
In the modern workplace, it’s not hard to see why this matters. Businesses have never had more ways to communicate with their customers and vice versa. From traditional phone calls to emails, instant messaging, social media or even chatbots, one employee might communicate with a single customer via their desk phone, laptop, PC or mobile.
Likewise, internal communication is carried out across the same vast array of platforms. An employee might video conference with one colleague in another office, shoot off an email to another as they walk back to their desk, and then use an internal messaging platform to pick up a conversation.
This means employees need to be able communicative effectively no matter what device they’re working from, answering phone calls from their computer, or checking their desk phone’s voicemail from their mobile. In order to work productively, these devices have to be integrated, so employees can move seamlessly from one platform to the next, whether that’s on their personal mobile under a BYOD policy or their desk computer.
In short, having UC in place facilitates conversation. Which in turn helps to deliver a great customer experience and a productive working environment for employees.
Why businesses are hungry for UC
This is precisely why businesses are keen to implement UC. In fact, found UC is the third most important technology that businesses anticipate will make the biggest difference to their success in the next five years, following data security and analytics. And creating this integration is a big investment priority; most organisations value integrated technology that works effectively together, more than they value individually powerful pieces. An impressive 73% of companies would prefer strong product integration over ‘best in class’ standalone technologies, which highlights just how important UC really is.
The research also shows the correlation between being a thriving organisation and having UC. Over a quarter of the most successful organisations already have integrated technology in place, with 28% of thrivers (self-identified within our research) reporting this within their businesses.
Most are struggling to make UC happen
Overall, however, the outlook isn’t brilliant – only 9% of businesses in total report having high levels of integration. And when we asked organisations who were just ‘surviving’ instead of thriving (those who felt their business either struggles to realise its full potential or is actively at risk of going backwards), a staggering 68% reported their technologies function independently, with minimal integration.
For these businesses, something has to change. It’s not always easy to bring UC into an organisation, but a great starting point is to work with a provider like Gamma, who can offer a full suite of integrated products, from connectivity services for converged voice and data to cloud-hosted phone systems and connected mobiles.
Obviously, it’s difficult to say for sure whether thriving businesses are successful because they have UC, or if successful businesses are simply more likely to embrace new strategies like integrated technology. But what Gamma’s research did discover is that 75% of respondents feel that having a UC strategy in place is an important part of driving digital transformation in their organisation. So, for businesses looking to drive their own success moving forward, it’s clear that UC has an important role to play.
Want to know more about what’s driving thriving businesses? Click here to download our Survive + Thrive research in full, which reveals the traits of thriving businesses, the technologies they’re investing in, and more.