In the past, we had very few ways to communicate with each other: In-person, via email, and over the phone. If you were lucky, you could throw in a work-approved instant messenger into that mix. But as technology developed, every standard communication functionality began to have its own app — and it got clunky very quick.
So when Apple brought calling, text messaging, video chatting, and iMessage into one user interface, we started to see the light at the end of the tunnel: Unified communications.
Even though iPhones were largely targeting the public, other telecommunication and workforce productivity businesses got the idea: when you merge all different forms of communications into one platform or product, users are more likely to see the innate benefit of your product, rather than singular additional features like free international phone calls or desktop apps.
We all know what it’s like to toggle through various apps for texting, instant messaging, and video chatting. The small amount of time it takes to jump around bottlenecks any business, regardless of industry
Unified communications as a concept is more than just voice and text capabilities, though. This post will give you a better understanding of unified communications and how it’s different from traditional communication. Then we’ll explain each of the features and functionalities you can expect from a unified communications platform one by one.
What is unified communications technology?
To put it simply, unified communications (UC) brings multiple communication apps into one platform. Since its introduction, UC has been a business’ lifesaver for internal communications, but now, as half the world works remotely, the definition of UC has evolved to include collaboration (UC&C) and cloud tools, as well.
What to know about unified communications
Even though the pandemic accelerated the adoption of UC technology, it was becoming popular well before 2020, just like remote work in general.
If anything holds back a business from growth, it’s failing to communicate with one another. That’s where UC shines, integrating your communications and [team collaboration]https://www.ampersandtech.com/solutions/workforce-productivity) into one place, no matter where your employees are working.
Here are a few reasons why UC has built such a buzz:
Access to the newest features and technologies
New features are constantly being added to communication technology due to the nature of modern leaner technology startups. And businesses stuck with legacy systems are limited in their ability to take advantage of fast-paced growth.
Instead of having to rip and replace systems to keep up with innovation, those using the newest UC technology get access to the newest features through relatively quick and easy software updates.
Reduced and/or eliminated data silos
Keep in mind that UC isn’t only for direct communication; great UC tools allow you to manage all your information in a more centralized way. Workers who miss meetings, for example, shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get access to the information they missed.
UC improves visibility by allowing everyone to understand what’s going on throughout the organization at any given time. Modern UC technology brings global teams together.
Reduced travel costs
Web conferences have become very reliable compared to when they were first introduced in 1996. Having to travel interstate or abroad for face-to-face meetings is no longer a business’ only option.
If you’ve found yourself toggling back and forth between five different apps every hour, you know how much time this wastes. Bringing everything into one platform, managing conversations, and looking for vital information becomes a lot easier with UC — without having to get a third, fourth, or fifth monitor.
A well-equipped remote workforce
Most UC platforms run on the cloud, which means anyone with the correct credentials and an internet connection can access the information and tools they need to maintain productivity. With legacy technology, workers have to physically be present in the office to access most business applications and answer their work phones.
Hire talent in geographically remote places
Businesses are less restricted to only hiring talent within driving distances. Modern UC tools allow businesses to hire employees in distant locations without sacrificing efficiency and productivity. We wrote in-depth about the benefits of hiring remote workers here.
Everything UC can do
As you can see, unified communications is best and most often used to improve efficiency, reduce communication costs, and boost productivity. Luckily, these benefits all go hand-in-hand due to the features and capabilities listed below.
As an alternative to traditional phone calling, VoIP makes calls over the internet. This means remote teams aren’t tethered to a physical location. As long as they’ve got a steady internet connection, they’ve got a reliable work phone.
With VoIP, workers get access to the same phone number from any device or location. So, if you don’t want to waste your resources on traditional phone systems, UC can help you attain the happy median.
Audio and video conferencing
Depending on your preferences, you can dial into meetings from your phone or join with video on or off. You won’t have to worry about inconveniencing anyone because many UC platforms, like Microsoft Teams, don’t require others to download an app. They can join meetings straight from their browser.
You can record meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page. This feature is especially handy for those who couldn’t attend the meeting and for new employees.
Watching recordings is a great way to revisit a meeting. However, it’s not always the most time efficient. You can activate auto-generated transcripts for your recordings, which are time-stamped so that others can quickly find what they’re looking for. You can also go back and edit transcripts in case the auto-generated words aren’t correct.
AI-powered technology can turn your voice into captions instantly with high accuracy.
Screen share is great for demos, PowerPoints, and much more. You have the flexibility to share just one window or your entire screen with others.
Easily gather data from attendees and group members alike. Polls are handy when trying to determine the best day and time to set future meetings.
See who’s online
Presence technology lets your workers know who is online, available to help, busy, and more. This way your team knows who to contact and won’t waste their time trying to get in touch with someone who’s busy.
Use built-in whiteboards
Boards have been popular among teaching and various settings for a reason: they’re incredibly effective. That’s exactly why many UC platforms have introduced the virtual whiteboard capability to virtual meetings.
Built-in video chat
Allow guests to answer and discuss questions during the meeting. Video chat also allows attendees to ask questions to presenters.
Easily share files and view from anywhere
Files can easily be shared through messages, during meetings, and much more. It’s also easy (and highly recommended) to store files in central content libraries organized by channels. This way, remote workers and in-office workers alike can access files securely from anywhere with an internet connection.
Feature-rich group chats
Group chats can be organized and labeled according to your preference, including by teams, projects, or clients. Individuals can further customize group chats for their account specifically as well, such as highlighting those they interact with most or sharing files in a dedicated group chat.
Easily integrate with other apps
Seamlessly integrate with various apps, including CRMs and project management tools. By integrating your communication tools with other apps, you unlock a multitude of new capabilities. Using Microsoft Teams as an example, you’re also not limited to Microsoft-specific apps.
Contact center capabilities
UC platforms today provide many contact center capabilities such as ring groups, which allow multiple phones to ring simultaneously or in sequence until someone answers. Other contact center features include virtual attendants, drag and drop call flows, and more.
Other notable features
The list of features available to organizations is extensive; we could go on and on. Here’s a list of a few more mentionable features that we use every day at Ampersand:
- Mute all microphones during video conferences to eliminate interruptions and background noise
- Choose various creative backgrounds
- Choose video conference layouts, including putting the presenter as the central focus
- Organize your calendar on the platform and join meetings directly from your calendar
Unified communications as a service
When it comes to the future of business communications, there are three key necessities to consider: performance, security, and reliability.
Unfortunately, many organizations mistakenly neglect proper security precautions when transitioning to unified communication tools, notably VoIP. Networks must also be monitored regularly to prevent communication and performance problems before they happen.
With Ampersand’s unified communication services, you can make the most out of unified communication technology without compromising on the three key necessities. You can help your organization maximize the investment in unified communication technologies to not only ensure your team knows all the powerful capabilities available to them, but can actually use them, as well.
Future-proof your communications with Ampersand
Unified communication services put you in a position to stay on top of the newest technologies, promote collaboration, and reduce overall communication costs.
Clunky, outdated systems require a lot of maintenance and don’t adapt well to the latest innovations. Perhaps most importantly, modern unified communications technology promotes a flexible work environment where workers can maintain productivity and collaborate from thousands of miles away.
Want to learn more about our unified communication services?
Visit our unified communication services here or reach out to us to talk to a tech specialist today.