Let’s get together: unified communications for a mobile workforce

With the rise of collaboration tools and web conferencing, many businesses are discovering a need to bring their communications tools under the same roof

Let's get together: unified communications for a mobile workforce

Unified communications is not a new concept. It has been – and continues to be – a key area of investment for companies adopting cloud technology. The term refers to the combining of different communications streams into a single, easy-to-use system. And with the popularity of remote working and the proliferation of collaboration tools that operate out of the cloud, it’s more important than ever to integrate all the tools. 

Working on the go

Company-issued mobile phones have become popular as they gave staff the chance to make and receive calls on the move rather than being desk-bound. The increased productivity of a mobile workforce was a game-changer for many businesses but things can start to get complicated when the boundaries between work and personal devices get blurred. On the back of the rise of smartphones, bring your own device (BYOD) is a trend that’s seen companies encouraging staff to use their personal devices to make work calls and reimburse them for the cost. While it was an improvement for many mobile workers, BYOD brought about its own unique set of problems. 

For one, employees who connect with suppliers, clients and other businesses on a daily basis aren’t always keen to share the number that their friends and family contact them on. But there is a solution: combining an employee’s mobile and desk number into the one device. Unified communications solutions such as softphones can be programmed so you have a work number that automatically gets redirected to a VoIP desk phone, personal mobile device or both. This allows people to retain the flexibility that comes with their mobile, keep their personal number private and reduce the number of devices they need to lug around. 

Coming together with video 

Video is becoming more mainstream and the use of expensive, in-room video conferencing is on the decline while more affordable, cloud-based capabilities available for desktop and mobile devices are becoming more popular. Many companies use programs like Skype or Google Hangouts to interview potential employees, hold meetings with colleagues in an overseas office or keep in touch with suppliers or clients. Being able to see another person during a call adds a personal touch, which in a digital age is essential to fostering relationships when meeting face-to-face isn’t feasible or cost-effective. 

Collaboration is key 

When it comes to business communications, collaboration is hugely important. Most workers have access to at least a couple of cloud-based, instant messaging or file-sharing tools to help boost productivity and cut down on email – which can be a massive productivity drain. The ability to share content, work on documents at the same time as your colleagues or send a quick instant message has helped many companies eliminate bottlenecks and allow staff to work more efficiently.

For example, Midwest Freight Systems, the logistics company, has used instant messaging to cut down the number of unnecessary phone calls its staff make while ensuring the lines of communication stay open. It’s still early days for the trend but companies that manage to integrate their collaboration tools with the rest of their unified communications setup find that they waste less time and boost productivity.

The sky’s the limit: the rise of cloud communications 

The cloud has been a huge driver for the rising popularity of unified communications, helping turn what was an expensive systems integration job into a simple, cost-effective migration process. Many companies already use cloud-based collaboration tools like Google Docs or Dropbox, so connecting this to a central communications system is no longer a painful process. As well as aiding the migration process, the cloud has also eased the in-house management and operation of completely connected systems. Instead of having the number of your technician on speed dial, companies now have a web-based management tool to troubleshoot problems or add new users. 

The lower cost of cloud-based software-as-a-service compared to traditional alternatives has also meant that unified communications is no longer just something for enterprise companies but is an affordable option for small businesses looking to manage their communication systems more efficiently. 

This article comes courtesy of RingCentral UK, a provider of cloud-based business communications and collaboration solutions designed to meet the needs of a modern, mobile workforce.


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