You’ve probably heard the buzzword “Unified Communications.” But what exactly is Unified Communications (UC)? Does your business need it? And how will it improve your business?

Unified Communications provides you with a single platform that connects your smartphones, tablets, laptops and office computers, all under one easy to use umbrella. No matter what device you are using, they are all linked together. Integrating your voice calls, texting, emails, video conferencing, instant messaging, and file sharing, allows you to improve the way your employees collaborate and makes your operations far more efficient.

Small businesses and companies of all sizes are embracing UC, particularly because of the benefits a cloud-based platform provides. Cloud based UC offers cost savings, flexibility, and a future-proof communications and collaboration setup without having to worry about buying addition equipment and balancing multiple vendors.

But does your company really need UC? Here are some indicators that you do:

  • Your employees and teams aren’t collaborating efficiently.
  • Your mobile devices, laptops, office computers and applications, are separate and disconnected.
  • Your employees are finding their own work-arounds to get their work done, which increases security risks to your business.
  • It’s difficult to deliver services, digital files and applications to remote locations and other parts of your business.
  • You’re stuck managing too many vendors for all your different collaboration tools.
  • You’re struggling with frequent communications outages and poor performance.

UC business benefits

With the real-time communication that UC offers, employees are always able to stay in touch and receive the information they need rapidly. Features such as “presence” make it possible for each team member to know the availability status of other team members, and reach out to them in the most effective way to communicate without delay.

Users and team members can start a collaborative session with a text and smoothly and quickly escalate that session into something that includes more people, morphs into a group call or videoconference that allows everyone to collaborate on a particular document.

The beauty of this type of “Smart UC” is that it is designed to be very simple to use. Users don’t want complexity and they’ll resist solutions that involve too many steps to accomplish what they need. The user experience is critically important.

Using UC leads to improvements in vital business processes, across departments such as customer service, sales, product development, marketing, manufacturing, and more. When all the tools are integrated into a convenient package, it enables SMBs to move more quickly and react more effectively to customer needs.

Improved customer service

Customer service is a top priority for every successful company, and UC allows an SMB to provide new and appealing ways to engage customers and meet their needs.

Suppose a customer service rep who is assisting a caller encounters an unfamiliar issue. The usual procedure is to put the customer on hold while the rep pursues an answer or a solution. Customers hate being put on hold.  With UC the rep can easily see who is available and message that person for quick assistance. It shortens the time customers spend on the phone or on chat and improves the customer experience.

Mobile – and business – agility

UC solutions allow a company to tie its mobile and other users together, harnessing the always-connected work culture to advance productivity. Mobile users with an internet connection can have full access to the company UC platform, with the same features and performance they would enjoy if they were sitting at a desk in the company main office.

Teams can stay fully connected, regardless of which members are traveling or on the move. Conversations take place faster, in real-time, leading to quicker decisions and actions. With dependable and consistent communications across all the devices, everyone has what they need at their fingertips.

This single-app approach to communication, managing content, and collaborating means projects can move faster thanks to fewer delays and more effective teams.

Other advantages

With a cloud-based UC solution such as Sprint SmartUC, a small business is billed monthly, and only for the specific services they need. That can mean significant annual savings. The costs associated with system management, maintenance, and software upgrades, for example, are all the responsibility of the UC service provider. There is no need for future hardware investment, either.

A typical company can save at least 35 percent on their communications costs annually, and that is just counting the easy-to-measure hard-dollar costs. There are also many “soft cost” benefits such as the increased productivity of employees thanks to their improved ability to communicate and collaborate.

Another plus: a small business owner no longer has to worry about falling behind as technology advances. That is always an issue when you invest a lot of money into a system of your own, and have to maintain it, upgrade it, and manage it over its lifespan. The UC provider will always have the latest and greatest technology in place to meet your needs.

Before you make the switch to cloud-based UC, it is important that your company look closely at the ways your employees and teams communicate now and assess the cost landscape, keeping in mind the benefits UC can bring. But since the odds are you will be better off with UC, now is a good time to start evaluating this option.