The avenues for communication and collaboration are boundless thanks to the globally connected world we live in, and nowhere is this more important than in business. Real-time communication such as audio and video conferencing keep employees connected and on task regardless of location. This virtual presence is augmented through the incorporation of mobile devices into company communications.
As a result, telecommuting has essentially become a household word. Some industries are even assessing the use of wearable technology such as smart watches and smart glasses as communication and productivity tools. And while all of this cutting-edge communication tech is astonishing, its use in the workplace hinges upon what is arguably the most important business communication innovation to date: Unified Communications.
Gizmos and gadgets galore supported by business communications technology
The arsenal of tech gadgets available to businesses today could make Inspector Gadget jealous, but the real power is in bringing all of these devices together. If you can bring devices together, you can bring people together, and that is exactly what UC achieves for businesses. The result is a connected, virtual work environment for employees that is device-agnostic, and unhindered by geography.
"If you can bring devices together, you can bring people together, and that's exactly what UC achieves."
From a personal tablet tethered to a home network, a member of a sales team can update a shared spreadsheet in near real time, for example. The updates can then be accessed by another employee logged in via her smartphone as she waits at a plane terminal to board a flight to meet with a prospective client.
Better yet, she's at her home office, preparing for a video conference with the client, undoubtedly saving the company hundreds or even thousands of dollars on airfare, lodging and food. For good measure, she can hop onto the unified messaging platform provided by the company's UC vendor and let the folks at headquarters know that she's aware of the updates, and is good to go.
Bridging the gap between apps with UC
Within the devices themselves, the goal of UC is to make applications as synchronized as possible. Consider the example of voicemail to email functions. Imagine that our road warrior from the example above is away from the home office and has spotty cell signal, but that very important client leaves a time-sensitive voicemail. No sweat: When she logs onto her company email using Wi-Fi at a local cafe, the message will be sitting in her inbox as a sound file. She can then use the VoIP softphone configured with her smartphone to call the client directly if necessary.
In this example, voicemail, email and VoIP have all been unified under a single umbrella. The result is a prepared employee with an entire network of co-workers and resources at her fingertips.
Communicating in the cloud
Small and medium-sized businesses have a lot to gain from a multifaceted UC platform, especially when it is stored and hosted in the cloud. Rather than employing expensive on-premises hardware for storing shared applications and resources, a modest-sized company can supply enterprise-grade communication at an affordable rate. This makes sharing and collaborating even simpler, since data can be more easily accessed remotely.
What's more, cloud UC creates room for growth in SMBs since it is scalable, which is the objective of many SMBs and startups; in fact, a 2014 survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that around 32 percent of respondents cited business agility as the main impetus for cloud adoption.
Technology may change the way we do business, but at the end of the day, UC changes the way we use this technology to communicate, collaborate and grow.