Unified Communications vital to the success of SMEs

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The concept of ‘Unified Communications’ is a vital tool in the armoury of smaller enterprises, and it will lead to more valuable and efficient consumer communications, customer relationships and employee teamwork.

Technologically, we live in exciting times. In the workplace, no form of business technology has been as dynamic as converged voice and data communications – an area where the rate of innovation and change has literally been non-stop, and shows no signs of slowing.

For most small and medium-sized enterprises – SMEs – the rapid changes in communications technology have brought significant opportunities as well as challenges. For example, once largely restricted to large enterprises, advanced Internet Protocol-based – IP – platforms have evolved to the point that highly reliable and fully-featured communication systems are now available – and affordable – to businesses of all sizes. This means that the widespread availability of sophisticated telecommunications capabilities has levelled the global playing field and given smaller firms the ability to effectively compete against much larger players.

At the heart of this technology is a concept called ‘Unified Communications’. It represents the intersection of IP telephony and advanced online applications and it can launch SMEs into more valuable and efficient consumer communications, customer relationships and employee teamwork.

Just as texting, mobile access, and social media have made the world wide open for a company’s customers, the same possibilities are available within companies. SMEs are being profoundly impacted by the change, or becoming vulnerable to more aggressive and technically savvy competitors.

But Unified Communications can put SMEs on a plane with much larger companies. An audit of current capabilities and an understanding of new technology developments will make a positive difference in workforce and customer communications. Businesses are migrating to unified communications platforms that allow them to pull their voice, data and video messaging together into one system. This provides significant cost reductions, and also helps them look and operate more like a big enterprise.

From a customer service standpoint, collaboration technology via Unified Communications has enabled SMEs to share information on customers in real time to improve service levels, such as pop-up screens that coordinate a voice call with data screens identifying the caller and providing background on their call history. Telephone call control, enriched by a wide range of desktop devices and applications, allows financial organisations freedom to change the way they do business, improve staff retention, create efficient business processes, and better customer interaction.

Through unified communications platforms, collaboration tools are enabling SMEs to communicate in real-time with their supply chain partners, for example, regardless of their location. And reachability may the most compelling reason for SMEs to adopt Unified Communications. Many businesses have staff working from remote locations and they can now stay connected with remote workers while presenting a seamless face to the customers.

From a customer service standpoint, the capabilities delivered by Unified Communications solutions have provided significant competitive advantages for SMEs. For example, with teleworker solutions, contact centres are no longer limited to providing service only during the office hours of the headquarters.

The next phase of reachability for most SMEs is providing simplified and immediate access to their employees who use primarily mobile devices. Companies have started to take advantage of features and functionality such as mobile extensions, which allows mobile workers to receive both their office and mobile calls on a single number.

And through their experience on the internet, consumers have learned that tools like firewalls, anti-virus solutions and spam filters are essential to protect their personal computers. Those same concerns are multiplied for small businesses choosing a Unified Communications system.

In the past few years, security concerns kept many small businesses from adopting Unified Communications. Just as a network or website could be hacked, so could customer data shared via Unified Communications. However, IP solutions now offer a high degree of security. Most current networks are backed by industry standard encryption. This encryption ensures confidentiality and protects against eavesdropping or interception of conversations.

Pinnacle is leading the way toward a new and more personalised approach to communications for enterprise and small business. Our innovative solutions, applications and desktop appliances enable clients to access, process and control their communications and information naturally, simply and efficiently.

Unified Communications solutions allow SMEs to collaborate over distance and time and to interact with their customers, colleagues and partners as never before. By combining the power of voice, data and video over converged high speed networks, this provides enterprises with flexible and personalised tools that lets them connect to their most valuable customers.

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