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Ralf Ebbinghaus of Swyx offers guidance to how much unified communications will cost and how it can boost your business.

Organisations both large and small can benefit from using unified communications (UC) technology to set up a flexible working infrastructure for staff. Whether they are based at home, the office, on the road or at any other location they can still remain fully productive.

What is Unified Communications?
Quite simply UC involves consolidating all your communications and networking resources, such as telephone, server-based applications, voicemail, email, IM (instant messaging), video or conferencing into a single connection. This is then accessed through a laptop or desktop computer either from an office-based network, home broadband connection or Wi-Fi.

Employees with internet access, a computer and a USB headset can do everything they could do in the office at home; or anywhere else for that matter. As far as your customers or suppliers are concerned, your staff are ‘in’ and available to work a full day as normal.

What are the financial benefits?
Here are some of the cost benefits that start-ups, SMEs and corporates are already realising: 

  • Reduce office costs without increasing telephony and IT costs - With UC any employee can work from home or remotely, but still be connected to the company telephone system and network resources as if they were in the office. Companies can consolidate their office space and reduce costs by implementing “hot” rather than “dedicated” desks to staff depending on who is scheduled to be in that day. And because communication is via the company network, inter-office calls are free. You can also use video conferencing to avoid the expensive travel costs involved with face-to-face meetings.
  • Increased sales - If staff are more available more often to your clients, it will increase new sales, encourage repeat business, and most importantly cement customer relationships. With UC “presence” information your staff are easier to contact regardless of location and those trying to reach them will be able to see they’re status – for example “in a meeting”, “on another call” or “available on the mobile”.
  • Look bigger and consolidate office overheads – UC enables companies that have branch or virtual offices to consolidate front desk activity to a single point. All calls can be routed into one number and because the whole organisation is on a single network, calls can automatically be transferred directly either to another office or to a home or remote worker, without the caller knowing.
  • Improved efficiency - Remote staff can have access to the most relevant information they need, when they need it, and where they need it as it gives you the opportunity to integrate your voice and data applications with other areas of your business such as your contact management database, CRM, billing and workflow systems. The result is that clients are dealt with quickly, efficiently and above all professionally.

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