In the early days of business, a small business owner opened a single storefront to provide goods or a service to their customers. Often, the owner (and possibly their family) was the only employee, working from open to close every day. This worked because the operation was small, central, and unique to its location. In short, this business was nothing like the small businesses that exist today. Comparing the small business of yesteryear to the small business of today is like comparing apples to extra-large acai protein smoothies (with the extra coconut flakes on top!). These days, businesses of every size are diverse and wide-ranging. This range is why managed unified communications services makes good (perhaps, vital) business sense.
What Do We Mean by Managed Unified Communications?
Managed unified communications (UC) takes the communications needs of a business and consolidates them into a single unified tool. This may include:
- Video conferencing
- Instant and text messaging
- Customer service
- Even more, depending on your business needs
While this is the easiest way to think about what managed UC is, there’s more to it than that. What this unified system does is take the multiple ways that businesses and their employees need to communicate and streamline them into a cohesive service that is nimble, highly adaptable, and customized to the company’s needs.
What are the Benefits of Managed Unified Communications?
One of the greatest benefits of managed unified communications is that it creates an illusion. The mythical business started in the garage (think Apple, Disney, Google, and Amazon, to name a few) may sound glamorous, but the market has changed dramatically since those businesses first began.
Now that we have faster tools to communicate and engage with customers, it’s important that they can engage with us, whenever and wherever they want. As simple as coming over to knock on our (garage) door. Managed unified communications offers the illusion that we are always open for business.
Being open 24/7 typically comes at a price, but another benefit of managed unified communications is that it can actually cut costs by as much as 25%.
The cost of everything from implementation to operation to infrastructure management can be controlled and budgeted for when managed UC becomes a fixed expense. Other cost-cutting benefits include:
- Upgrades handled by the managed network services company
- Lower cost of ongoing maintenance
- Less hardware means fewer capital expenses and IT labor
- Lower costs associated with employee onboarding, ongoing training, or turnover
Managed UC also means better recordkeeping for reports. This helps leadership manage resources, of course, but it also translates to efficiency at the employee’s desk itself.
For example, imagine sending a chat IM to a customer (who is already in the system from a previous email sent a year ago) that sets up a conference call that is then automatically synced to your calendar, which sends a reminder 30 minutes before the call, and then locates and calls all participants. The conference call is recorded and sent to all participants when it ends.
Now imagine that your long-awaited vacation to Hawaii falls on the day of this crucial conference.
Managed unified communications makes it possible to convert your phone, tablet, or laptop to a desktop phone so that you can take that call on your balcony overlooking Kiholo Bay in Kailua-Kona. (Or perhaps it’s a much less glamorous trip to a work conference, but we can all dream, right?)
This flexibility is more in keeping with the way the telecommuting workforce does their job these days. Reassigning an extension or taking a call should not mean a work order for the IT department and an employee chained to their desk.
Unified managed communications can be cloud-based, on-premise, or a combination of the two. This can again create the illusion of a large central location when, in fact, your multi-million-dollar company operates out of a small office in a remote location (or a tiny suite in the middle of a big city) or even distributed throughout home offices across the country.
Beyond the cost-cutting, flexibility, and always-on customer service benefits of managed UC, consider that a great provider is also always focused on security. A managed UC offers:
- Increased network security
- Proactive and efficient system maintenance and upgrades
- Improved quality of service (QoS) in voice quality, call routing, and network management
- High level of network availability (around 999% uptime)
What else should I consider?
There is no denying the benefits of a managed unified communications system, but as with anything, there are some obstacles to implementation.
The primary obstacle is cost. The cost of managed UC services varies depending on the technology you need, the size of your business, and the amount of support needed. This price also depends both on which UC user license you select (on-premise or on the cloud) and the complexity of the managed UC that is right for your business.
It is also possible that your staff will be resistant to changing any system that has been in place for a while (and is familiar to them). Resistance to change is one of the primary reasons that businesses delay adding new systems that could streamline day-to-day operations for years to come.
At Voxtelesys, we understand these challenges to change and are skilled at working with you and your company to make your switch to managed unified communications services seamless and affordable.