Understanding the Benefits of Unified Communications

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1 Understanding the Benefits of Unified Communications Overview Increasing operating efficiencies is more important than ever in today s business. Competitive pressures force organizations to improve processes through automation in order to provide better products and outstanding customer service. The technology of Unified Communications (UC) allows us to provide a flexible business system that enables more effective communications, collaboration and business efficiency. A system that integrates with a desktop environment, empowers mobile and remote workers and integrates into your business processes is the key to transforming and improving employee communications. In this paper, we will explore the benefits of UC and offer an understanding of how network, voice and video communications can empower your workforce, improve operations and help you achieve customer service excellence. What does Unified Communications mean for my business? How do I know when it s time to upgrade my technology? What improvements will my business experience? How can ROI performance be determined?

2 What is Unified Communications? The convergence of computers and telephones to improve communications is essentially what Unified Communications is all about. It s a term used to describe a set of tools that enhance business processes and bring customers and employees together in a cost-effective and productive way. With increased network abilities and improvements in IP telephony today, these tools are widely available. The opportunity to improve general communications and the power that this technology can bring to an organization is priceless. When viewed as an investment in technology, the savings in office space, travel requirements and labor make for an attractive return on investment (ROI). The term Unified Communications includes at least these 5 different capabilities: SAVE TIME AND MONEY Unified Messaging Desktop Client Integration Notification Service Personal Assistant Communications- Enabled Business Processes Contact Center Mobile Solutions Collaboration IP Telephony (IPT). IPT is a technology for voice communications. Using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) standards (the delivery of voice communications sessions over IP networks), voice calls are carried over an IP network as opposed to traditional public switched telephone networks (PSTN). With IPT, features that improve productivity can be used including visual voice mail, advanced call routing, presence settings and collaboration tools. In many cases, a laptop, desktop PC or even a mobile device can be used as an IP phone to make and receive calls. Conferencing. Conferencing is the interaction of three or more parties using audio, video and/or visual information sharing using collaboration tools. Conferencing technology has grown tremendously over the last decade as more organizations move to a de-centralized model with more mobile workers. In addition, conferencing fosters stronger relationships and more effective teamwork amongst employees, customers and suppliers without increasing the travel budget. Instant Messaging (IM). IM refers to real-time text transmission over the Internet using a computer or other consumer device such as a smart phone or tablet. For shortlived information and quick conversation, IM is perceived as being more efficient than and works well as a communication tool in today s fast-paced world. Unified Messaging. Unified messaging is a business solution which allows users to send and receive voic s, s, text messages, faxes and instant messages using a number of different devices such as a computer or smartphone. Regardless of the device, the communications all reside in a single, unified inbox. Presence. A presence management platform allows users to see who s available in the organization. It also provides a seamless method for contacting those people with a variety of integrated communication techniques like find me / follow me, or instant messaging. This technology improves business processes by simplifying and accelerating the flow of communication. 2

3 Technologies That Work Well Together UC applications provide high-performance, full-featured integration of communications. This means improving worker productivity and effectiveness by offering technology that allows them to more easily communicate internal and external to the business. With intuitive functionality, training is fast and easy with most organizations reporting positive employee feedback just weeks after the system is installed. Knowing when to upgrade to a more advanced system of communication will be become clear when: A multi-site organization is still running a number of separate phone systems Calls cannot be easily routed between the sites Customer response times begin to lengthen Your organization begins to struggle from a communications standpoint Travel costs begin to rise Project completion times extend You are probably already familiar with video conferencing, web conferencing, instant messaging and many other applications, but a true UC environment integrates these productivity tools. The ideal architecture that supports UC is a system that is extremely reliable, modular (allowing for additional components as requirements expand), easy to learn and manage, and offers a low total cost of ownership. A high-value UC environment also provides an open platform for easy integration of thirdparty applications. This gives organizations the opportunity to take advantage of bestin-class products from a variety of suppliers. EFFICIENT Unified Communications increase efficiencies by creating user environments that encourage productivity and team work by: Improving Decision Speed Decreasing Travel Expenses Reducing Productivity Losses Due to Travel Encouraging Ad Hoc Team Collaboration 3

4 Who Uses UC? In healthcare, financial services, retail, manufacturing and distribution, UC brings organizations closer together. When working from remote offices, scheduling a conference call or connecting a customer with a technician means cost-effective utilization of resources. For the technician, customer service is in jeopardy if the customer is on hold for a long period of time; being able to route calls directly to C U S T O M E R EXPERIENCE We are a preferred vendor for one of the big three automakers with operations spanning the entire North American continent, involving large scale building projects. XFER supplied us with state of the art tools to communicate with remote construction sites, saving us time and money for on-thespot decisions that used to require a lot more time and travel. Our systems are now integrated, so conference calls and video sharing are available to our engineers and construction managers instantly. R.B., IT Manager the technician keeps the process transparent and improves response time. For collaborative efforts, getting everyone together in a virtual meeting is far more costeffective than traveling or meeting face-to-face. For a customer support environment, UC is a powerful tool that drastically improves an agent s response time and allows them to manage a bigger workload. Going Mobile A true UC environment is best implemented when the workforce is mobilized. Complete control of applications and mobile access gives users the opportunity to use the system in a unique and comprehensive way. However, as important as mobility is in UC, there are still strides to be made in terms of integration. For example, many line-of-business applications are desktopbased and are not completely compatible when viewed on a mobile device. Without the ability to use a full keyboard, data entry can be cumbersome. Today s smartphones and tablets are an appropriate platform for mobile client software and telephony applications; as carriers increase bandwidth and decrease costs, voice, video, and data will become increasingly integrated into the corporate infrastructure on these devices. In some cases, they are replacing traditional desk telephones and workstations by providing features like: Extension to extension dialing Corporate-wide text messaging Desktop sharing and collaboration Video conferencing These tools enable greater convenience for mobile users. The ability to interact with team members and other collaborators in a similar way they would in person offers greater efficiency in a mobile environment. The result is a continued flow of business, empowered employees and improvement in overall effectiveness. 4

5 Overcoming Business Challenges Today s office environment looks very different than it did 20 or even 10 years ago. More employees are working from home or remote office vs. headquarters. This means an increased number of workers are using their own laptops, smartphones and tablets to conduct business. This BYOD (bring your own device) trend can appear to be good news from an expense standpoint to the business, but the challenge of managing a wide variety of devices can become difficult for the IT department. Standardization, corporate policies and properly deployed management tools can help to bring about increased cost savings with a BYOD plan. In addition, planning ahead and engaging a knowledgeable support company can unlock significant cost savings from this growing trend. Team Work Performance With more workers operating remotely, and fewer workers in the traditional office environment, teams and other collaboration groups are faced with new communication challenges. With proper technology and applications, teams can get as up close and personal over the internet as they could in the conference room. Providing the right tools allow team members to interactively communicate in real-time to problem-solve and brainstorm with the click of a button. Business at the Speed of Light A fast-paced environment is a challenging environment. Work teams and remote office workers need to be able to react quickly and interactively with co-workers, clients and vendors. UC tools allow workers to know the availability of their resources and quickly bring them into a meaningful collaboration environment regardless of their physical location. Deadlines that are met and high customer satisfaction are both hallmarks of a properly deployed, and fully integrated communication environment. The New Face of the Workforce In today s economy, scaling the business to demand is one of the most challenging tasks of the management team. Most companies start with the highest cost resources when downsizing, which are the people. This comes in the form of RIFs (reduction in force); and these reductions impact the workloads of those that remain. When the workforce gets smaller, more work needs to be done to (a) maintain the momentum of business processes, and (b) ensure that customer service performance is not impacted. By speeding communication and reducing wait times, UC enables businesses to maintain or improve these critical areas with fewer human resources. Similarly, adding resources is most easily accomplished with a flexible, modular architecture typically associated with a properly deployed UC environment. 54% of nearly 1,100 businesses polled believe unified communications can improve collaboration and productivity among company partners, suppliers and customers. In a recent survey conducted by a U.K. conference call service vendor 5

6 Calculating Return on Investment XFER PROMISES Focus on Your Business and Bottom Line Carrier/Provider Neutral 24 x 7 x 365 Support Annual Services Audit Increased Uptime Reduction in Monthly Recurring Costs Implementing UC can be a sizeable investment, but one that will result in extremely fast payback resulting from: Increased worker productivity with full access to system features Improved collaboration and employee morale Faster problem resolution with mobile management Enhanced customer service response times From an infrastructure standpoint, there are cost reduction opportunities in server equipment, maintenance and cabling. Companies are saving thousands of dollars in new cabling costs and reductions ranging from 15-50% in telecom expenses by going with IP phone systems. Measuring Effectiveness When referring to the benefits of implementing a UC system, it s important to evaluate both the tangible and intangible benefits that result. There are immediately measurable efficiencies such as an increase in revenue, reductions in hardware costs, reduced travel costs for employees and lower telephone bills, but there are also soft benefits that have a positive impact on the business that are not as easy to quantify. These might include faster project implementation, improved internal communications, greater customer satisfaction and an improvement in employee morale and empowerment. The combination of benefits fosters continued growth, exemplary customer support and meaningful collaboration. As with any major change being made in the business, it s important to note that along with an upgrade in technology an update of business processes will also have to be made in order to fully utilize the maximization of benefits. Operational Benefits of Unified Communications Benefit Faster response times Improved levels of service Increased availability Scalability System Management Improvement in Process Agents have more time to spend on calls, follow up and additional tasks. Faster call routing and handling; improved operational efficiencies. Presence feature enables users to locate colleagues faster. This improves productivity by slicing up to an hour on the average connection attempt. This can shorten project completion time by 10% or more. Reduced travel time also increases availability. Room for growth without having to invest in additional hardware and components. Remote management results in fewer labor hours needed. 6

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8 XFER bridges the gap between traditional telephony and network data, and we leverage solutions from the best phone system providers in the industry to create custom communication offerings for your business. Our large portfolio of Carrier, Internet & Cable Providers allow us to design and implement the right solutions and networks for your business. visit call 800-Get-XFER A B O U T X F E R COMMUNICATIONS Managed IT Services Security Solutions Hosting and Protection Backup and Disaster Recovery Hardware & Software Technical Services We provide IT consulting and support services for small and medium-sized businesses covering all aspects of your company s business needs. Copyright 2014 XFER Communications. All rights reserved.

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