As we look at the evolution of unified communications platforms over the last 20 years, we quickly realize these systems are transforming businesses. Today, a business can be entirely virtual, and operate as though it’s in a traditional on-premise environment. The ability to purchase a unified communications solution today with commodity features that allows your business to operate and communicate in more efficient ways is very real. A deeper dive into the world of unified communications platforms of 2015 shows us many exciting real-world designs.
To begin, it’s important to acknowledge these systems no longer need to be on-premises (i.e. at a business). Whether your business is highly reliant on voice communications or not, we can now investigate cloud services as an option. Some unique business needs might drive a business to still consider an on-premise solution, but the options are plentiful now for selection and usage. The business owner and key financial analyst at a company now have the flexibility to consider subscription services avoiding any up front capital.
Now, as we start to investigate the potential designs for a unified communications solution, we must thoroughly analyze the business for what is needed. Let’s start by asking some basic questions:
- Do we have a mobile workforce?
- Can we leverage our employee’s cellular devices?
- How much do office staff currently use their physical handsets today?
- Do we currently have a video conferencing solution or could we use one?
- Have we polled the staff to understand their current communication challenges?
Of course, that’s just the beginning list of questions and review to your business that will allow a design to eventually unfold. That in mind, we can now approach this hypothetically and start a design. Let’s use an example of a Chicago based business with 100 employees at the headquarters, and three remote offices each with 10 employees. Our capital dollars are stretched this year, so we are very interested in a monthly fee with the option to buy the system after several years. A study of the business found we can close two of the remote offices and allow those employees to work virtually while designing the system to provide a pervasive voice, web and video solution for internal and external communication.
We proceed to review cloud service unified communication providers and select a solution that leverages the following services:
- Video conferencing for all employee use
- Instant messaging to improve efficiencies in group collaboration
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration
- Voice translation for voicemail conversion to email
- Mobile usage to extend a system extension to an employee’s smart phone
- Soft phones for virtual staff usage
- Contact center with improved call routing and better metrics and business intelligence for customer service management
After complete implementation of this service, including porting of all phones number and a six-month training and advanced feature roll-out, this business was able to leverage a unified communications design that dramatically impacted the internal and external communications, while saving the company precious dollars. Upon review of the financials, it became apparent that the money spent running two remote offices, coupled with phone line and long distance savings from the cloud provider, would provide a net monthly savings of $3,000. The outcome was essentially a new unified communications platform at no cost to the business with state-of-the-art technology including automated hot-site disaster recovery.
It is important to acknowledge the change agent needed for the business to properly embrace these technologies. Some power users will need little training and others will need significant help and guidance. As an example, video conferencing has become much easier to use over the years, but people will still fall back to just using a conference phone if not pushed to change. The employee reconditioning will take time for many, but management must be firm and also set an example to assist the change agent(s) in this successful deployment.
To summarize, designing a unified communications platform in 2015 is much different than even three years ago providing a company a tremendous opportunity to rethink the way they run the business. Taking the time on the book-ends of this project are critical with thoroughly planning a deployment and being mindful of the training needed. Don’t let this technology pass your business by as your competition might already be ahead of you.
If you’re interested in learning more or need assistance with your unified communications design, please contact RSM’s technology consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us. Lastly, to learn more about RSM’s service offerings check out our website.