In today's fast-paced business environment, collaboration among team members and high-quality communication with customers are integral to improving organizational efficiency. While businesses today have a growing number of communication tools at their disposal, coordinating information from various channels can complicate workflow and lead to delays or errors.

A unified communications (UC) platform allows you to leverage the latest business communication technologies without the potential issues and inefficiencies of managing discrete applications.

What Is Unified Communications?

UC brings together all your communications into a single, powerful suite of tools. Whether you need business phone service, collaboration tools, virtual meetings software or enterprise-ready contact center solution, they can be integrated into a single suite of applications.

Unified communications technologies empower everyone in your company by giving them access to the same tools regardless of where they are or how they connect. The right UC system can support remote, mobile and home-based workers, as well as connect with customers at any time using their preferred method.

A UC suite consists of applications such as:

  • CRM
  • Messaging
  • Video calling and conferencing
  • Phone systems
  • Billing integration
  • Reporting
  • Call routing and management

Unified Communications for Small Businesses

Cloud-based unified communications as a service (UCaaS) enables companies to access the latest technologies without a large upfront investment or maintenance cost. It allows startups and small businesses with a limited budget to tap into the benefits of VoIP telephony and internet messaging tools.

It can:

  • Facilitate voice calling through the internet. Compared to conventional telephony, which uses telephone lines, VoIP is more reliable, offers better call quality and costs less
  • Allow you to scale up without purchasing additional hardware or connection lines so you can grow at a fast pace without the high upfront cost
  • Provide a variety of internet messaging services such as email, MMS and webchat

The UCaaS software/app can be installed on each employee's workstation and mobile device. All employees can use the same application to communicate from anywhere with an internet connection. The conversation threads are updated in real-time on all the devices so nothing falls through the cracks.

Unified Communication Critical Capabilities

Organizations have different requirements, so how do the various UC features meet your business needs? The Critical Capabilities for Unified Communications as a Service report gauges UCaaS functionalities on a variety of factors and shows how a UC platform can meet the demands of different companies.

UCaaS for Small Businesses

Many small businesses are using dispersed teams to tap into remote talents while lowering overhead costs. With UCaaS software, employees can communicate with the entire team via voice calls, video conferencing and messaging apps simply by logging onto the unified communications platform from their computers or mobile phones.

UCaaS for Medium Businesses

Medium businesses have to handle many incoming and outgoing calls daily. A UC platform provides the call center capabilities to handle customer communications efficiently. UC technology can also support MMS and SMS marketing campaigns with minimum added IT costs.

UCaaS for Enterprises

A UC platform allows global enterprises with multiple divisions across different countries to connect their teams and customers at a low cost. Enterprises can also use UC contact center solutions to enhance customer experiences and leverage multimedia communication tools such as video and audio conferencing, team messaging and MMS to facilitate collaboration.

The Business Case for Unified Communications

A unified communications platform provides multichannel communication pathways via a single interface so employees can use the most effective method for contacting coworkers to increase efficiency.

Here are the many advantages of using a UCaaS platform:

Cost Savings

  • Video conferencing helps reduce travel costs
  • Virtual collaboration tools allow managers to oversee multiple locations or remote teams
  • A managed cloud-based UC platform reduces the need for dedicated IT resources
  • Reduced upfront costs associated with hardware and infrastructure, such as servers, PBX systems and software licenses
  • VoIP integration lowers phone carrier fees, which can cut phone costs by 50% or more

Greater Efficiencies

  • Faster decision-making by instantly connecting team members no matter where they are. Reduced latency in internal communications can speed up response time by 20% or more
  • Centralized document storage enables team members to access the latest files and information in real-time
  • File sharing, screen sharing and other tools facilitate collaboration whether team members are in the office, on location, working remotely, traveling or working at home
  • Integration with other internal software solutions, databases, filing systems and CRM software allows access to all information from a single interface

Remote Workforce and Global Presence

  • Use of a distribution team to tap into a larger talent pool and lower overhead costs
  • Enhanced remote collaboration to improve efficiency and productivity while minimizing frustration
  • The ability to make international calls at no additional cost facilitates relationships with customers and vendors around the world
  • Online admin portal allows you to manage the system and users’ access privileges from anywhere without the cost of a dedicated IT team

Improved Customer Experience

  • Streamlined collaboration and communication break down internal silos and transform your business into a customer-centric organization
  • Shorter response time improves customer service and increases customer satisfaction
  • The ability to use a distributed customer care team via a virtual call center solution means you can provide 24/7 support with no added cost

Unified Communication ROI

The ROI of using a UC platform is significant. The more robust the applications are, the greater the overall return in both time and cost savings. You can use this unified communication ROI calculator to see how much you can save.

Choosing a Top Unified Communication Provider

There are many unified communication providers offering different packages. However, the quality of the service varies so it's important to choose a vendor that's recognized as an industry leader. For example, 8x8 has been selected as a leader for seven consecutive years in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS.

Here are some key criteria for evaluating unified communications providers and examples of unified communication features you should look for:

  • A mature, proven solution: Offers a wide range of solutions, such as contact center as a service (CCaaS), and trusted by customers in various industries including government organizations, law firms, healthcare organizations, small businesses and large enterprises
  • Cloud-based platform: Hosts the software and data in the cloud so you can minimize initial investment and ongoing maintenance cost associated with hardware, infrastructure and software upgrades
  • Mobile application: Enables users to install a softphone application on their mobile devices so they can log onto the platform and communicate with their teams no matter where they are
  • Hybrid communication capabilities: Delivers a streamlined user experience across all communication features and devices so team members can easily access voice, conferencing, call center services and CRM tools from a browser
  • Easy addition of new users and locations: Allows you to add new users and new locations around the world so you can take advantage of globally distributed locations and workforces without a high overhead cost
  • Business continuity and recovery: Has fully redundant hosting infrastructure so backup resources can be brought online immediately in case of an outage. This eliminates a single point of failure or interruption of service that can result in costly downtime
  • Training and onboarding: Offers online resources and live training to encourage adoption so your team can fully take advantage of the robust features to optimize ROI
  • Administrative portal: Provides an intuitive administrative portal with analytics dashboards for management and analytics. You can track usage, browse call logs, check for anomalies and generate reports for audit and compliance purposes
  • System integration: Allows you to incorporate existing business applications, such as, NetSuite, Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 so you can further streamline workflow and increase efficiency
  • Regulatory compliance and security: Offers a secure environment that meets various compliance and security standards, including GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, FISMA and ISO 27001. This is particularly important for industries that handle sensitive information, such as retail, legal, healthcare, financial services and government

Why 8x8?

8x8’s unified communication system is a cloud-based, hosted and managed service that brings together your connections onto a unified UCaaS platform to enhance collaboration and communication. It provides the latest tools, including:

  • Employee and team tools
  • Mobile applications
  • Team messaging
  • Video and audio conferencing for up to 100 participants
  • Call recording
  • Personal call analytics
  • Integrations (SFDC, Zendesk, NetSuite, Dynamics, etc.)
  • Operator switchboard
  • IVR (interactive voice response)
  • Multichannel contact center
  • Predictive (or progressive) outbound dialer
  • Supervisor tools
  • Supervisor analytics
  • Call quality reporting
  • Granular search analytics
  • Graphical call display
  • Post-call surveys
  • Quality management
  • Speech analytics
  • @ mentions for real-time agent feedback

UCaaS Is the Key to Business Success

Using a robust unified communications platform is the key to enhancing team collaboration, increasing cost-efficiency, improving customer experience and establishing a national or international presence. It can help businesses of any size to scale up quickly, access the latest communication technologies and leverage contact center solutions without a large upfront investment.

Your business needs every cog in your machine to be as productive as possible. With 8x8's Unified Communications platform, your business gets the unified messaging it needs without the need for multiple disparate systems. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out an online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.

Related Topics

Unified Messaging

Unified Communication Companies

Unified Communications Best Practices