The market for Unified Communications has grown rapidly in the last few years. In the second quarter of 2020 alone, worldwide Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) revenue grew 25.1% year-on-year.
The fact is that we’re all talking more — whether that’s via text, email, phone or video. The events of the COVID-19 pandemic may have forced us apart, but we’re all doing our best to remain connected.
And technology is helping to pave the way; Unified Communications and Collaboration tools, for example, are helping to centralise and connect traditionally disparate solutions. Similarly, these tools are helping teams — remote, home-based or in the field — to communicate in the ways that work best for them. Customers can even have the choice of different methods of communication to reach businesses and their service representatives.
Creating an effective Unified Communications plan means different things to different businesses depending on their circumstances and needs.
For some, it’s simply joining fixed and mobile communication and ensuring people can always be contacted when they need to be. For others, it means rethinking their entire communications network to create a flexible, end-to-end remote customer contact centre that can be used from anywhere and on any device.
But no matter the business, Unified Communications are a key part of any successful remote working solution — and will continue to be as we head into the future.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of Unified Communications.
In one global study, 93% of employees said that integrated Unified Communications tools made them more productive. This is because tools are connected and in one place — giving them quick access to the information they need.
So when you need details quickly, sending an email and waiting for the other person to reply just isn’t reliable. This is particularly important in a remote working environment as employees can’t walk over to a colleague at another desk to ask a question.
This is a challenge Hogg Robinson Group managed to overcome with Unified Communications.
With nine different phone systems operating at the same time, the corporate services company needed to simplify their infrastructure.
By moving their communications into a single consolidated service, calls are now dealt with using a single number. It’s easier for customers and routes them through to the right person quicker. The new system also meets corporate objectives for staff retention and service delivery by accommodating home workers.
Collaborating remotely is a challenge facing all businesses in the future as they get used to new business models — including the fact that employees are working from different locations for longer periods.
Deloitte highlighted this particular challenge in their 2020 report: Remote Collaboration: Facing the challenges of COVID-19.
They found that as employees continue to work from different locations and use different tools to communicate and collaborate, siloes will naturally start to creep in.
Unified Communications help with this because all of your communication channels (voice, instant messaging, desktop sharing, video, audio and web conferencing) are consolidated in one platform.
Whether employees simply need to catch up over the phone to discuss a single detail or run full web conferencing so teams can simultaneously work on projects from different locations, Unified Communications make sure everyone has access to all the information and tools they need — creating a more collaborative and flexible workforce.
If 2020 taught businesses anything, it’s that businesses need to put themselves in a position to react quickly to changing circumstances.
A key part of this is having processes and systems in place that allows your business to carry on as normal, even as you adapt to new ways of working.
A Unified Communications tool allows employees to access all of their communication functions from any device using a single, company-wide application.
It should also fit with the company’s cloud-based collaboration tools so employees can plug other applications into the communication network.
For example, it would allow a customer service specialist using a laptop to take voice calls from customers, all while having instant access to workflows and previously logged customer issues. This will give them the context and capability they need to best meet that customer’s needs and provide a seamless experience.
One of the hallmarks of successful remote working is enabling employees to work with different working patterns.
A challenge of this flexible model is ensuring customers can contact your team when they need to, no matter what device they’re using.
A customer contact worker, for example, needs to be able to take phone calls from customers while still being able to access digital tools through a laptop or tablet to see previous customer engagements and actions. There’s also the problem of your team being contactable wherever they are.
Having separate phone and contact centre systems makes this more complicated. But by combining voice communications with a contact centre dashboard, you can easily handle customer enquiries and switch between communication options with ease.
Video production company ID2 Media had this challenge, with employees often working from customer locations - rather than their fixed office.
Moving their communications into a unified platform in the cloud has allowed them to join up their fixed and mobile phone lines, ensuring customers or employees get automatically routed to an available device — using a single number.
“We’re always contactable and we can always put our customers first”, is how ID2 Media owner Mark Poole describes their business’ communications today.
Global electronics supplier Panasonic manages communications for more than 1,700 users around the world, but to support new and mobile ways of working, they knew they needed to bolster their offering.
So to improve the telephony experience for their users (spread across multiple locations), they decided to work with Vodafone Business to establish a Unified Communications network.
Thanks to unifying their communications landscape and using Vodafone One Net Enterprise, Panasonic have reduced their costs by 30% and introduced a host of new features — all of which can be accessed seamlessly by users.
As a result, employees and customers benefited from a simple and more reliable communications system, one which joins fixed and mobile communications and can be managed from a single service desk. Calls can be transferred between landline and mobile with ease, and users can choose one number for all their devices. It makes for a more flexible and customisable experience!
Whether businesses are looking to adopt remote working in the future or not, now is the time to investigate how to adapt and improve their communication models to prepare for a more flexible working environment.
Even if they don’t change to a remote working model, chances are some of their current and future customers are doing so already.
This means adopting a Unified Communications strategy that can not only deal with your own, internal communication needs but also meet the needs of future customers.
Also, by creating a single platform that incorporates all your business’ communication channels into one system, teams will be able to collaborate and deal with customer interactions however they want.
By adding this extra layer of agility, you can be sure that whatever challenges your business faces in the future, you’ll have the platforms and systems in place to help your teams to weather them.
Given what we all experienced in 2020, being agile as a business has become non-negotiable.
Ready to learn more? Find out how you can manage the evolving remote workplace with our guide.
Around the globe, our network reaches 182 countries.
We provide the physical network and the management and control function.
Gartner names Vodafone as a Leader in its 2020 Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global.