What is unified comms?

Rob Borley
by
on 05 March 2014

At the most basic level, unified communications is a strategy to route any incoming message via a unification platform to the intended recipient. The unification comes from tying multiple technologies together so that the actual transmission method is irrelevant when delivered to the recipient. At Dootrix we are increasingly being asked to help with such strategies and in particular where the smartphone can facilitate this unification.

Unified Comms

One of the easiest examples of unified communications to explain would be routing voicemail recordings to the recipient’s email inbox. A true unified communications strategy seeks to unite as many incoming and outgoing communications channels as possible, including:

  • Email
  • Mobile, landline and VoIP calls
  • Video calls, messaging and conferencing
  • Instant messaging
  • SMS text messages
  • Fax
  • Radio

Advanced unified communications systems may also make use of technologies like voice recognition to transcribe a voicemail message into text for an email for instance. By converting audio content to text the message can be accessed by a wider range of devices, allowing the recipient to collect and respond even when away from a “proper” phone.

Depending on the channels that are unified and the technologies applied, communications can in theory be routed to almost any client device. The rise of the smartphone within the enterprise makes it the natural end point for most unified communications efforts, particularly as employees can be reached even more easily.

Why are unified comms important for business?

Unified comms offer businesses several good reasons for adoption; these are the top three.

Improved comms efficiency and mobility

The ultimate goal of any communications unification project is to improve efficiency and responsiveness. By providing methods that allow customers, partners and employees to communicate more quickly you can expect to:

  • Resolve issues more quickly.
  • Allow closer collaboration between employees regardless of their geographical proximity, particularly homeworkers.
  • Reduce communication failures or delays when communicating with mobile employees.
  • Ensure that messages and responses are delivered using the most appropriate method in any situation.

It is hard to place a value on improved collaboration, but the boost to productivity should be obvious.

Improved auditing capabilities

Auditing communications also becomes much easier if all messages pass through a central unified comms solution. For businesses needing to prove regulatory compliance, or who are subject to regular disputes, the auditing and tracking of every message sent across every channel will be invaluable.

A unified comms systems allows you to create a complete picture of communications to track “missing” messages, or instances where productivity is below standard.

Reduced operational costs

By unifying the various incoming communications channels into a single interface, businesses are able to do away a lot of supporting hardware. The fax machine can be easily replaced by a fax-to-email system, or desktop telephones can be replaced by a VoIP comms app for smartphones for instance.

The more hardware that can be replaced by a unified comms solution, the less capital expenditure required to purchase new hardware. Businesses should also note a corresponding drop in maintenance costs.

Putting it all together

The hub of the modern unified comms solution is rapidly becoming the humble smartphone. For businesses willing to make the investment in unified comms strategy, the efficiency gains alone should make such a strategy profitable.

Time-poor employees will always gravitate towards communication channels that offer the least resistance, often adopting solutions outside your business’ control. A unified comms policy, backed by robust technology, will help create a solution with which employees will willingly engage, helping to avoid many of the problems and costs outlined above.

If you need help defining a unified comms policy, or implementing a cost-effective technology solution to make your workforce communications simpler and more cost-effective, Dootrix can help.

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