Unified communications has been a buzzword for several years now. So much so that seeing the title of this article, you may have been tempted to assume you already know all we have to say about it.
We encourage you to hold off on that assumption.
We believe that, like so many other things in business, when something critical becomes commonplace, it’s far too easy to miss some of the core strategies that make the difference between good companies and great companies. Unified communications is a perfect example.
At Splendid, we’re committed to making you great. Here’s how you can use your unified communications strategy to make that happen.
Why unified communications matters more than ever
Your organization has to have a communications strategy. Whether you develop one or not, there is one in play. The moment people start communicating with one another, some kind of communications process is in place.
The only question is whether or not you take an active role in cultivating it.
Not only that, but the available communications tools are more diverse than ever. If you don’t purposefully organize, consolidate and streamline your communication—both internally and externally—you’re doomed to organizational chaos, inefficiency and (inevitably) profit loss.
It’s as simple as that.
Unified communications gives you a way to harness the power of all those communications tools and put them to work for you. A unified communications strategy isn’t a luxury or an advanced business strategy only used by a few elite leaders. It’s the difference between a growing business and a dying one.
The advantages of unified communications
As you sort through, refine and revise your unified communications strategies, be sure you address each of the following. This is how you tap into all the power of unified communications.
1. The power of the cloud
The cloud has fundamentally changed how we do business. Cloud solutions are secure, robust and readily available to businesses of all sizes in cost-effective packages that scale to your exact needs, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a startup.
And unified communication is right there in the mix.
Cloud-based unified communications tools integrate with each other, update frequently to keep pace with the latest tech trends and developments, and they’re remotely accessible. You don’t even have to be in your office to stay in the loop.
“With all of this current and potential [cloud-based unified communications] functionality at their disposal, businesses can focus on their core competencies rather than worrying about technology.” – Cisco
2. Make the business process more conversational
At the very center of every epic business win, there’s one common ingredient—people. No matter what your company sells, you’re in the people business. People work for you. Your clients are people. Everything you do, ultimately, involves people.
A well-crafted unified communications strategy gives you ways to make your business people-centric, allowing for deeply conversational business processes, which in turn boosts efficiency, creativity and productivity.
3. Stop shadow IT (the right way)
Shadow IT is the bane of so many corporate IT departments. Employees use non-sanctioned tech tools, like IM apps and file sharing solutions, because they’re convenient, easy-to-learn and readily available.
But that shouldn’t be necessary with a complete unified communications strategy. After all, if you give your staff user-friendly options for getting their work done and staying in touch with each other, there’s no reason for them to find alternate options.
When your unified communications strategy addresses all your business needs, you won’t even have to ask people to stop using shadow IT. They will because their needs are filled.
“The simple act of optimizing your communication and maximizing the benefit of a single UC solution over others will quickly eliminate some of the shadowy internal competition.” – CIO
4. Go beyond voice
Unified communications, as you know, includes a lot more than voice. There’s instant messaging, file sharing, screen sharing, video conferencing, webinars and all kinds of other collaborative, engaging options.
A cohesive unified communications strategy gives you the opportunity to help your people engage with each other at all levels. The resulting collaboration will help your company grow.
5. Double-down on customer experience
But unified communications isn’t just about your internal focus. It affects your customer base, too.
Whether you sell to other businesses or to individual consumers, few things can propel a company to success (or reduce a company to failure) like the customer experience. The easier it is to reach out to your support staff, the happier your customers will be.
Your unified communications strategy is a huge part of that.
“Customer experience rises to the top of whether or not the customer will decide to keep doing business with a brand.” – Forbes
6. Protect priority communication
Finally, all communication isn’t created equal. Some messages, while important, aren’t critical. Some are.
Here at Splendid, we got a vivid reminder of this recently while working with the Aubrey ISD Police Department on their crisis communications system. As Scott Collins, Chief of Police, noted, “In an emergency, seconds count.” The unified communications strategy we helped them build made a very real difference in November 2018. The police knew about an emergency on campus before the 911 call had even been completed.
Any organization can experience an emergency. That’s why we advise all our enterprise-level clients to have thorough disaster recovery and business continuity plans. In times like those, reliable, effective communication can make all the difference in the world.
You unified communications strategy
We know that, most likely, you already have a unified communications strategy in place. We encourage you to review it. In fact, you should revisit it periodically to ensure you’re still covering all your bases.
While you could (theoretically) do that on your own, the best method for review and revision is going to be to work with a unified communications professional. Even if you have an internal IT staff, consider reaching out to a consultant for additional expertise and insight.
The added perspective will only make your strategy stronger.