Increasing Employee Productivity Through Unified Communications
Unified communications can increase productivity, prevent errors, streamline overall operations and contribute to greater efficiency. A perpetual stream of new apps, programs and devices that make communication easier have actually made communication more fragmented and scattered for many employees. Unified communications provides a central hub that incorporates different complementary technologies.
Communication Overload Distracts Employees
Check out the article “Want to Help End Users Increase Employee Productivity? Unified Communications is the Solution!” The article points to research that shows more and more workers are working outside of optimum environments and are struggling to work effectively.
One of the main problems is the sheer number of different methods of communication. From email to SMS messaging to videoconferencing to VoIP, many employees feel overwhelmed by the ever-increasing number of scattered communication outlets that their attention is spread across. Collaboration software made strides in bridging this gap, but nothing comes close to unified communications (UC) in uniting far-flung employees.
The History of Unified Communications
In the early 1980s, two technologies were both emerging in the business world: voice messaging and email. The first crack at unified communications – well before the proliferation of cell phones and PCs – is credited to a an early voicemail company, which incorporated an “email reader” into one of its devices in 1985.
It wasn’t until the 1990s, however, that emerging technologies allowed the UC concept to really take off. Major investors realized the potential of uniting email and messaging into a single platform – and hat platform would be mobile phones, which were becoming more popular and more feasible for the average person to own. In 1999, the BlackBerry RIM signaled a new era of genuine unified communications.
The next decade brought a tidal wave of technological advances, from Flash video to the mainstreaming of VoIP technology by Skype in 2004. In 2007, Apple unveiled the first iPhone and the smartphone era was born.
Boosting Productivity and Stamping Out Distractions
Research shows that the four biggest culprits responsible for wasted time in the workplace are time spent looking for information, attempting to contact employees, supervisors or colleagues, making attempts to schedule meetings and redundant communication platforms.
All of these time killers can be dramatically diminished or removed with the implementation of unified communications. The integration of voice, data, chat, apps, video and even faxing can remove redundancies, make scheduling easier and centralize employee/colleague/supervisor interactions.
Unified Communications as a Service
UC requires a substantial up-front investment in hardware, software, training and maintenance. Unified communications as a service (UCaaS), however, is hosted UC, which takes the burden of implementing, maintaining and securing the necessary technology off of the business. Instead, a host company charges a subscription fee to lease their equipment, which they are responsible for erecting, maintaining and updating.
UCaaS offers a wide range of options that most companies could never establish on their own, such as UC consulting and implementation. Typically a UCaaS package will include some combination of soft phones, presence management, unified messaging, single number reach, conferencing, and, of course, all the necessary messaging hardware.
UCaaS has enabled even smaller businesses to enjoy the enterprise-level reach of unified communications that was once reserved only for large, well-resrouced companies. Both managers and employees can coordinate everything from POS issues to payroll. When all interested parties are using the same UC system, incoming messages, meeting schedules and itinerary changes will all be contained in the same environment. No collaboration software, no matter how sophisticated, can come close.
About Author: Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer who covers business technology and software.