Four ways unified communications can improve productivity Part I

Four ways unified communications can improve productivity Part I

Today’s blog will give a quick definition of unified communications and then explain reasons why this concept can lead to improved productivity in the workplace. So what is unified communications? First of all, it is more of a broad concept than any specific, concrete product or service that comes in a box. There are many different vendors that offer some form of unified communications technology and there are many flavors of it. In general, however, unified communications can be understood as the effort to unify the communications channels that we use singularly and/or in parallel and pull them together. For example, a unified communication system might create a unified mailbox whereby a user could access email, v-mail, voice, text and video using only one number. It works to eliminate the parallel structure of our communications channels. Unified communications may also be applied to begin to integrate our social media, where we normally have to maintain different accounts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

So why is this useful? Let’s look first at productivity.

  • Businesses are becoming more virtual; Real estate, whether owned or leased, is not free. Increasingly, firms are fostering more full-time work-from-home initiatives. As a result, collaboration has to rely heavily on technological communication channels. In a cyclical pattern, as these technology channels improve and expand, our capacity to eliminate the constraints of physical workplace locations. Virtual offices can be more successful with integration.
  • Improve the usefulness of our communication channels – Just as five separate trips to the restaurant wasted time and energy, not using integrated collaboration and communication channels is inefficient and limits our capacity to effectively communicate together. This lack of integration hinders productivity. Multiple channels lacking integration can be clumsy, and at the very least, not optimized for efficiency.

In our next blog we will continue the discussion of how unified communications can help improve productivity in additional ways.

So, what is this “Unified Communications” thing, anyhow?

So, what is this “Unified Communications” thing, anyhow?

Have you heard the term unified communications tossed around lately? It seems to be used a lot in IT, telecomm, and work collaboration circles. Unified communications is a newer concept that refers to a conceptual platform where multiple communications channels can join together to increase productivity and facilitate collaboration. Here’s one way to look at it. Imagine that you only own one car. And imagine it is a sporty two seater. And then imagine you decide to invite five of your friends, none of whom are able to drive, out to dinner. This means you would have to pick each one up separately and drive him or her to the restaurant. And of course, one of them lives down an old rough farm road, so you have to drive very slowly so you don’t damage the underside of your expensive little two seater.

This scenario is pretty similar to the way we handle business communications today. We aren’t able to just throw everyone together in a great big van and go out and have fun. Think about all of the possible ways we communicate and collaborate in the workplace. We use email, vmail, the office phone, our mobile phone for voice, our mobile phone, a chat app, and perhaps an occasional fax thrown in for good measure. Not to mention, the workplace isn’t always a specific physical location because a virtual office can exist anywhere. Slowly but surely over the past few decades the tools we use to communicate have multiplied and the locations available to “conduct” business have reached an infinite number. So, instead of driving everyone individually out to dinner, it is time we considered buying a nice big van. And that is the idea behind the concept of unified communications. It is time to look at all of our communications channels and begin exploring how we can combine them to save time and energy, and become more efficient. And perhaps as a bonus, improve the quality of our collaboration and outcomes.

Multi-Channel communications: are they enough?

Multi-Channel communications: are they enough?

Do you use the multi-channel communications model? This approach toward communication with customers and prospects is very important, but are you recognizing the limitations that this model has for today’s digital users? This blog will outline what is meant by the term “multi-channel communications” and discuss the limitations of this model for encouraging effective and responsive communications with your customers.

Multi-channel communications means that you have more than one channel available for communications with your customers. At its root, it is a model that creates extra channels for customers to communicate with the organization so that they can meet you on the channel that is most convenient for them. For instance, you may have an 800 number that they can use to ask product questions or place an order. The multi-channel communications model develops when you add an online order form, or perhaps a chat box for questions. Today, the use of multi-communications is standard. Customers can communicate via chat box, text, voice, email, etc. The goal is to meet the customers where they are.

However, as it is commonly defined, that is as far as the multi-channel goes. Customers can meet you on several channels, but that doesn’t mean there is any integration of the data communicated on each of the channels. In this older channel model, each of the channels are silos; it is this lack of integration that is the critical limitation of the multi channel model.

Today, organizations have to take the next step and integrate these different channels. Known as the omni-channel communications model, data is transferred or communicated among all of the channels in real-time. Instead of silos, the users experience a single roadway and it doesn’t matter which lane they choose to use. The goal is that whenever a customer connects on any touchpoint, they pick up right where they left off at the last interaction. Ideally, the channels could be used simultaneously; for example, I talk to customer service while reviewing my order status online, or check my shopping cart for an in-stock size or color.

The multi-channel communication model was a necessary step in reaching customers where they were, but it no longer is sufficient. To learn more, contact a managed services provider to learn how you can fully integrate all of your channels, so you can meet the expectations of today’s customers.