Are increasing revenues, improving efficiency, decreasing costs and boosting productivity important to your business?
Of course, they are, if they’re not then don’t bother reading this!
According to a Price Waterhouse Coopers LLP survey of businesses that have adopted Unified Communications into their business strategy they did so for the following reasons:
- Productivity 52%
- Opex Savings 51%
- Efficiency Gains 45%
Ok, great reasons I am sure, but, specifically how does Unified Communications help? And what about my business?
Two questions I am asked all the time, but the answer is different every time because businesses have different needs, are in different industries, different locations, different staff, diff…. you get the picture.
Rather than write a huge article covering every feature and benefit that can conceivably be accredited to ‘Unified Communications’ I am going to opt for the easy answer and apply the Price Waterhouse Coopers survey question to some of my customers and see why they adopted Unified Communications.
It’s not a comprehensive list by any means but it does give some insight into why businesses are investing in UC and their connectivity and if you haven’t taken the plunge yet look through these and see if any resonate with you and your business.
Also, whilst reading bear in mind another Price Waterhouse Coopers prediction;
By 2020, we expect near 100% penetration of UC in companies
Includes a mix of “UC 1.0” telephony focused and “2.0” multimedia IP-based deployments (with the balance changing in favour of the latter)
Here are 15 reasons that ‘resonated’ with or were issues addressed in some of my customer’s deployments:
On-Premise vs Cloud Telephony: This was a choice one of my customers was struggling with making until they were offered a hybrid solution which rendered the question obsolete. By implementing a combination of both disciplines they got the best of both worlds. Their accounts department were advising against Capex and wanted an Opex solution but operationally it looked like they would lose too much functionality with a pure cloud solution. With the hybrid solution, it became a simple business choice without having to compromise on features or functionality, plus, they could enjoy ownership of the equipment without having to endure permanent subscriptions. Resilience and redundancy worries were alleviated with a choice of SIP, analogue or ISDN connectivity whilst still benefiting from the advantages of lower line rentals and call costs enjoyed with VOIP. In the end choice of service provider, more efficient use of bandwidth, better internal app integration and a vastly superior feature set are the reasons they chose a hybrid solution.
Leased line: This was a no brainer! Their new office came with a dedicated leased line which provided sufficient bandwidth for all their phone and data requirements and then some. Ditching ISDN for a SIP solution at 60% lower rental costs was enough motivation.
Be in the ‘office’ anytime and anywhere: Unified Communications gave them access to their system from home via a simple PC application on their laptop with a headset. Allowing them to cover bank holidays and staff shortages without the need to go in and sit in their office on the off chance of a maintenance call out.
Mobile Client App: This simple to set up application was perfect for their 14 engineers who are virtually permanently on the road or on customer premises. It allows them to take their office extension with them anywhere on their smartphones allowing them to work and collaborate as if in the office even when they are out.
- Calls could be transferred around the system.
- The number presented was the office number and not their mobile number.
- DDI Calls to the office rang on their mobile.
- They could see the status of other extensions in the office.
- They used instant messaging from their mobiles extensively.
- Could use video calls from their mobiles to seek technical support from office based technicians.
Desktop CTI Client: With this customer mobility didn’t matter but the ability to manage their calls from the desktop PC was enough to convince them. They loved having the ability to control their calls with simple one click or drag and drop with their mouse.
Outlook integration: Same customer, but dialling directly from their Outlook contacts and seeing contact details displayed when their customers called in produced an impressive improvement in the level of customer support they could deliver.
Highlight to dial: Maybe I’m cheating a little bit here but this was another hot point for the same customer again. Their sales department make a lot of outbound calls and they are not always out of Outlook, quite often they are browsing the web or have a number listed in another program so the ability to just highlight the number and have it dialed for them is a great time saver, plus reduces mis-dials.
Call recording on demand: A little too much information I thought when this customer confessed “most of our customers lie!” but a simple button press on their handset enables them to record their telephone conversations with their customers when the need arises (which would seem, is quite often!). The resulting .wav file is then emailed to them and kept with the customer file as proof of order.
Help button: Same customer, “Great, I can call in a witness!” was his reaction when we set up the help button for him. It’s usually used for telesales training to allow struggling trainees to signal a supervisor to stealthily listen in to a call in progress and help when needed, but in this case they use it to aid in dispute resolution.
Auto Attendant: I know, the annoying auto attendant – dial 1 for sales… but when your business is faced with a huge seasonal influx of calls as my customer is you have to make sure other departments are protected otherwise nothing gets done! And the auto attendant was the perfect solution to their problem.
Call Queueing: Same customer, same problem, not enough staff to cope with the calls was probably the real issue here although queuing the customers with a blend of informational announcements and music on hold keeps them occupied in the queue and seems to keep the peace. Telling them what position number they are in the queue and giving them an option to exit and leave a voicemail message for a call back also seems to appease the most impatient of callers.
Voicemail to email: For this customer, easy retrieval and distribution of voicemail when out and about meant they could respond to customers wanting component prices so much quicker than before. Plus, having the wav file in an email meant it could be forwarded to the correct member of staff to respond very simply, even from their mobiles.
Gigabit LAN pass through: When your IT people don’t install enough data points because ‘they forgot about the phones!’. IP phones with Gigabit LAN pass through ports suddenly become a very important factor to consider. The usual motivation is cost savings when cabling a building out for CAT5, but then, ‘there is more than one way to skin a cat’, or so they say.
SIP Lines: BT have announced that they will cease to sell ISDN by 2020 and cease the service altogether by 2025. SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), is the standard communications protocol used for voice and video in a Unified Communications (UC) solution across a data network and will soon become the service replacement for ISDN. Enough, it seems, to get many customers planning a migration, despite the huge savings to be made on rental costs.
Inclusive calls: In addition to the savings on offer with SIP lines, further cost savings are to be made with call plans of tailored inclusive minutes to local, national and UK mobile phones. It all adds up to make a very strong financial case for UC.
There you have it, 15 good reasons for adopting Unified Communications as quoted by my customers.
Now, some of the purists among you may well argue that some of those reasons aren’t purely categorized as Unified Communications features and you may well be right. But, as far as I am concerned they are all bona fide business reasons for making business process improvements in the pursuit of bigger revenue margins.
And, who am I to argue, after all, the customer is always right!