Usually, business owners are told that the answer to everything is to diversify, and in general that’s good advice. If you rely on just one supplier, or a handful of clients, then you’ll be in a lot of trouble if things start to go wrong.
One area where it’s better to go against the grain, though, is communications. It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan, a unified communications solution is a valuable tool that can save you money, and increase the productivity of your employees.
What is Unified Communications?
A unified communications system integrates a range of common communication tools such as instant messaging, video conferencing, email, SMS, VoIP, and even remote collaboration tools. Many modern unified communication tools also make use of fixed mobile convergence , to make their suite seamless. One device can use mobile, fixed, and WiFi networks, with the user not needing to care about what network they’re on. All they need to know is that they’re connected, and can reach the people they need to reach, and work with the data they’re interested in.
One System, Multiple Tools
If you have a lot of employees, and need to rely on a lot of different tools to support a range of remote workers (some in offices, some working from home, and others using ultrabooks or smartphones while at client sites), then unified communications is the way to go. Instead of having to have your employees get to grips with one provider’s VoIP software, an unusual IM client, an open source e-mail solution, a proprietary groupware solution, and a phone with an archaic user interface, they can enjoy one consistent user interface that should become intuitive after a short while. Even if they rely only on email and VoIP for most of their work, should they ever need to send a global IM announcement, their familiarity with the other software from the same provider should pay off.
With fixed mobile convergence, your users don’t have to care what network they’re on. In theory, if they are in an area with no WiFi signal, the device they’re using should fail over to the mobile signal, silently. If your fixed telephony system encountered a problem, you should be able to continue working uninterrupted.
It’s usually easier for your IT team to back up all of the data in a unified communications system than it is for them to manage the backups of several disparate systems. This means that from a crisis management point of view, unified systems win out.
Relying on one provider to handle all of your communications might seem like a big risk, but if that provider has a strong service level agreement, and you keep a backup line, it’s a risk worth taking. If you ever do feel the need to migrate from one unified communications solution to another, then you’ll be pleased to know that most vendors provide support for just that purpose. Your data is not usually locked in to the system, and exporting it is not that great of a technical challenge.
This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Maintel, experts in fixed mobile convergence and unified communications.