In a world where communication is becoming more and more important, one of the new challenges for companies is to foster interactions between different team members, partners, customers and suppliers.
As a result, for a company, the capacity to be able to communicate effectively becomes a preponderant competitive element.
At the same time, the multiplicity of communication channels makes managing them more and more difficult for companies.
Faced with these challenges, we find new systems that allow companies, and more particularly small businesses, to stand out in the field.
Easy to set up, benefiting from many advantages, unified communication is one of those technological advances that can benefit very small businesses.
In this article, we'll define what unified communication is before seeing how small businesses can benefit from it.
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What is unified communication?
Unified Communications refers to a telephone system that integrates (or “unifies”) several methods of communication within a single company.
Let's take an example :
Your company probably already communicates in several different ways: with a landline, by email, by SMS, by instant messaging, fax, or by means of video conferencing. Today, thanks to the Internet, there are many means of exchanging information, in addition to the traditional mail and telephone.
A unified communications solution will bring together all the means of communication of your company and allow them to link with each other so that they can work together in one system, making your business much more efficient.
Usually, a unified communication solution brings together:
- a professional telephone system,
- a voice mail,
- an instant messaging system,
- a fax,
- a video conference system,
- and more.
A unified communication solution can also be integrated with:
- your professional email,
- web applications,
- your company's social networks,
- a customer relationship management system (CRM).
Note: Some business communication tools such as Internet Protocol (IP) telephony and videoconferencing facilitate real-time communication. In this case, we speak of synchronous communication. Other business communication tools, such as email, promote asynchronous communication, which facilitates communication at a person's convenience. The two types of communication are complementary within a company.
The goal of a unified communication system is to integrate and support both synchronous and asynchronous communications so that the end user can easily access all available tools, regardless of the device used.
It's all well and good, but how does it work?
A unified communications environment is generally supported through collaboration and unified communications solutions that facilitate integration between different departments.
For example, a video conferencing system that integrates an audio system could be integrated with an underlying IP telephony platform, which itself integrates a unified messaging client allowing “click-to-talk” (CTC) and instant messaging.
What are the advantages of a unified communication system for very small businesses?
Turning to a unified communications system allowsimprove collaboration all in greatly reducing costs related to the management of the various communication channels. Maintenance is reduced, which also allows small teams to increase their productivity. These all-in-one systems provide a competitive advantage for businesses that need a single system to manage multiple tools and platforms.
Many companies choose unified communications solutions for thehas simplicity and practicality : the user knows at a glance which communication channel is best suited to correspond with a colleague, supplier or customer.
Compared to a traditional telephone system and other communication systems, opting for a unified communication system allows small businesses to manage their expenses and sustain their investments while being up to date with technological advances.
To sum up, here are some of the main benefits that unified communications systems offer to businesses:
- productivity improvement;
- reduced costs;
- better customer service;
- increased business income.