Communications technology has made business communication faster, cheaper and more efficient. Today’s workforce uses email; web, audio and video conferencing; instant messaging and presence to collaborate and share data almost instantaneously. Businesses are discovering that managing and maintaining this expanding toolkit can be complex and costly. This is why a growing number of organisations are turning to unified communications (UC), which unify these diverse tools in one place.
The global UC market is expected to grow to more than US$62 billion by 2022 according to a recent Global Industry Analysts, Inc. report. One of the major drivers of this expansion is a growing culture of collaboration in organisations. In fact, one 2006 study found that the impact of collaboration is twice as significant as pursuing new markets and five times as significant as the external market environment to a company’s overall performance. Businesses are now leveraging communications tools to help their employees work together more easily.
Another significant way business is changing is the rising mobility of workers. According to Global Workplace Analysts data, the remote workforce has grown 103 percent since 2005. This means that more workers need to access company information from a variety of locations. Often, remote workers are expected to be as productive in a home office, hotel, or customer site as they would be if they were seated at a desk in the office, in front of a desktop computer and office phone.
Even employees who work mainly from the office are integrating their own mobile devices into the enterprise – nearly 70 percent of them, in fact, according to a study conducted by ZK Research. Many businesses, especially smaller ones, are discovering that they can save money and increase their agility through this consumerisation of IT, where employees buy and use their own devices for work, called BYOD (bring your own device).
However, managing all these different tools can prove to be unwieldy. It can mean working with multiple vendors and systems, managing multiple licenses and service contracts, and dealing with issues with vendor interoperability. Not only does this increase the complexity, but costs can add up as well. One local study estimates that companies are overspending on communications by 35 to 45 percent.
Traditional communications systems, such as on-premises PBX systems, are not only costly to acquire, with expensive equipment and installation, but their total cost of ownership is also high. Maintaining these systems often calls for technician visits and swapping expensive electronic boards and replacement parts. Adding more users or locations means running more cables and buying new hardware, costing companies money and time. Add to this the fact that these systems need to be upgraded every three to five years.
Unified Communications, especially when delivered as a cloud-based service (UCaaS), can remove many of the problems associated with traditional systems. UC integrates communications applications across multiple modes (such as voice, data, video) on one platform. Its main benefits are seen through cost savings, improved collaboration and increased productivity.
With UC, there is no expensive equipment to buy upfront and much of the maintenance is done remotely. It is also much easier to operate as complexity is shifted to the cloud. This is especially important for companies that lack in-house expertise and resources. Smaller companies, in particular, benefit by operating with the same capabilities as larger enterprises. As a scalable service, UC also lets users add functions based on their needs, and pay only for the features they use.
Having multiple communications tools on one platform also improves collaboration. One way UC does this is by making ad hoc collaboration easier. Unlike conventional reservation-based meetings, UC allows one person to quickly see if another person is available, start a chat or audio or video conference and even invite others to join. What’s more, one person could be at his office computer, another on a desk phone and yet another on her smartphone – a single conversation operating over multiple modes and locations.
Having access to a unified communications system from anywhere they have an internet connection, significantly improves worker productivity. By facilitating BYOD, workers are able to do more using their preferred devices even when they are away from the office. Companies with multiple branches also find that staff can move between locations or be relocated quickly and easily.
Many companies start thinking of deploying UC when it’s time to upgrade their old PBX. In fact, it could benefit them to begin introducing UC much earlier, since some services can easily integrate with existing systems.
Since 2012, C&W Business has been a leader in the UC space in the Caribbean and Latin America. In Trinidad alone, they have delivered the UCaaS experience to over 11,000 users, from micro business of one or two users, to massive deployments with thousands of users. Average cost savings has been 25-40 percent in the private sector, while customers in government sectors have seen as much as a 60 percent reduction in their total telecommunication costs.
Customers benefit from 24-hour proactive monitoring and end-to-end support. In fact, prevention of PBX fraud is one area in which C&W Business’ UC Solution stands out. PBX fraud involves a third party making long duration toll calls at the expense of a business. Through the intelligence built into its monitoring tools, C&W’s V-NOC is able to quickly identify anomalies or abnormal call patterns and if necessary, immediately shut out the intrusion.