A lot of professionals get overwhelmed by all the possibilities modern communications bring. This is particularly true especially among old-school enterprises who are careful in trying to adapt to new technologies that are quickly becoming more and more openly available to various players in the business-to-business marketplace these days.
The promise of better and more efficient communications highlighted by enhanced voice, video, faxing, email, voicemail, mobile, and other cloud-powered capabilities are arguably more enticing than the traditional ways in which people communicate, and this is why a lot of organizations are moving towards unified communications (UC).
UC merges these important modes of communication into a single internet-based infrastructure. By doing so, communications between employees, partners, and customers becomes more streamlined and simplified. Not only do employees get access to fasters and more efficient ways of reaching out, but they also get better access to data and information that can help them become more productive in their respective functions.
Despite the clear benefits organizations get from unified communications, transitions aren’t always smooth. Here are a few challenges that they face on a regular basis:
Some employees will quickly embrace a UC implementation while some won’t. Some may want to stick to the routine. Some will be averse to change. Benefits such as remote work, flexible work, reduced travels, and working in distributed teams will be completely new concepts to several employees. Others will be less than enthusiastic towards the introduction of new workflows and learning curves.
The challenge for organizations now is to retain, if not increase, productivity levels during this possibly dragging part of the deployment. Companies should also focus on creating an extensive adoption plan to make sure that the UC solution will be maximized by members of the organization. For starters, they can set up ambassador teams who can spread the word out or train employees regarding the new system. Network teams and support teams are also critical for adoption, so make sure that you get to know them and ensure that their needs are met.
Even with a new communications system in place, businesses can’t just throw out old investments in the form of equipment. Therefore, it is important that the UC system of your choice matches, or at the very least, compatible with, the hardware you already have. If not, you can expect the costs of your UC deployment to go up.
The key here is to understand how the existing tools you have work. Figure out what they exactly do and try to improve on them. The need to work with the new tech you just acquired. As a customer, you should insist on interoperability from your chosen provider, and you should only buy from companies who can truly deliver it.
Another alternative is to opt for a unified communications system that requires minimal hardware, but this is probably more ideal for small businesses or multi-location offices comprised of smaller teams.
Another issue that organizations trying to put a UC system in place face is the lack of integration options. For instance, even when a unified communications solution that offers video conferencing features is already in place, a company that still heavily uses Skype in their day-to-day operations will keep using the said software once they find that they cannot completely integrate it with their UC.
As such, companies should choose a UC system that offers a bevy of integration capabilities, particularly with business software that members of the organization use every day. Commonly used business tools like Salesforce, Dropbox, Microsoft Office, and the Google Suite should be easily integrated with your UC solution so that you could maximize your output. This will allow you to pull data and perform office productivity tasks (among others) without having to fire up different programs or switch screens. This practice could also result to a more streamlined workflow because business information and activity becomes more centralized.
Additionally, it would also help if you find a unified communications system that is fairly open, as it would help you “customize” your service according to your business needs. This can be done through open, programmable APIs that offer greater flexibility especially for the developers you work with. For instance, you have very specific needs when it comes to the way incoming VoIP calls are handled. Your UC system might not offer this specific need as a feature, but when you find that your provider has a developer platform which gives you complete access to all the codes and specifications that makes up the communications system, then you can build your own VoIP application that will address your requirement.
As would-be unified communications buyers, you need to address these three major challenges. Give your employees time to absorb the new technology and the new workflows. Ensure that you’d still be able to use your existing assets even with a new UC solution in place. Overcome the obstacles of integrating your existing business tools into the new system. In no time, you’d be well on your way to expecting the optimal business results you want.
Klaris Chua is a digital content marketer who has written many pieces on startups and small business communications. You can connect with her on Twitter.