What is unified communications and why is it important?
Anyone over the age of sixty will vividly recall how people used to communicate with customers and suppliers: in writing by letter, or orally by telephone. There was nothing in between. A lot of new methods have been added since then, leading to a proliferation of devices and software programs. Switching was the word of the day, between your laptop and your smartphone and your fixed landline phone. And more than anything else: between all sorts of software applications. Your mind was reeling with all the questions. ‘How can I reach that customer again fastest?’ ‘How can I make sure that my customers can get hold of me quickly even when I’m not in the office?’ All questions to which unified communications has the perfect answer nowadays.
But what is it exactly, and why is it so important? We explain below.
So what is this unified communications (UC)? The term is really self-explanatory: it means the integration of a wide range of methods and channels for communication. In other words: emailing, chatting, video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence or FMC (the combination of your fixed and mobile number), screen sharing (collaborating with colleagues, for example, on a single online whiteboard, on a mobile and virtual basis), number recognition and so on.
And you can take this integration quite literally: thanks to UC, all your business communication runs via a single user interface (app, browser, software), enabling a single, uniform user experience. You can still switch between devices, but only because you yourself choose to do so. You just work with the device that suits you and your work situation best at that particular moment. Totally in line with these digital times, when your customers and suppliers expect you to be available anywhere, any time, and you and your colleagues want to work from any location.
If all the workers in your organisation want to benefit from unified communications (UC), you naturally need the right technology. There are a lot of options. An IP PBX, for example, where all the great features of UC simply run via your physical switchboard. You can even reconcile analogue and digital with ISDN.
However, the technology most used today is VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol. With VoIP, all your communication goes via the internet: telephone calls, video calls, chats and so on. Everything related to voice flies back and forth in data packets at lightning speed. And the great thing about it is that you yourself no longer have to buy or maintain a switchboard, because the heart of your communication beats in the cloud. And this VoIP solution has even more advantages:
- VoIP is cheaper. You no longer have to provide a range of connections for every employee who needs a phone, nor do you have to worry about ISDN connections with an external operator. A fast internet connection is all you need.
- VoIP is easily scalable. Flexibility is everything. Are you adding workers or do you have to downsize? Your VoIP exchange grows or shrinks easily with you.
- VoIP makes smooth teleworking possible. The time when everyone worked full time at the office was consigned to history at a single stroke by the coronavirus crisis. Today, many companies opt for a hybrid form of working – partly at the office, partly at home. However, this teleworking naturally puts pressure on your business communications. When everyone wants to collaborate easily and smoothly, you need to supply the required infrastructure and tools. VoIP makes all your communications dreams come true overnight.
- VoIP is secure. No solution is entirely 100 percent watertight: cyber criminals are getting much cleverer, and we have to build ever higher and thicker walls around our data. However, the risk of data leaks is definitely no greater with VoIP than with traditional networks. Read here how Destiny makes your network safer
Switch over to VoIP? Great idea! Read our blog about VoIP here
However, the biggest advantage of all with unified communications (UC) lies in its ease of use for anyone who works with it. This derives from fixed-mobile convergence / FMC (or fixed-mobile unification / FMU): the integration of fixed and mobile telephone numbers.
In concrete terms, this means that everyone in your company or organisation receives one fixed number at which they can be reached. Employees can keep their mobile private number as normal, but they no longer have to share it with customers or other contacts if someone wants to contact them outside the office. You just call their fixed work number, they decide entirely for themselves how they’ll answer calls: with their fixed device if they’re in the office, with their smartphone or softphone if they’re working at home or travelling. Another great feature: if they call on their mobile phone, they can still display their fixed number to their contact.
The softphone is a software application that you install on your computer or just use in your browser without installation, or on your smartphone with an app. That way, your laptop or desktop or your smartphone gets all the options of an old-fashioned phone plus a range of modern communication tools.
Whatever challenge you face: Destiny has a customised cloud communications solution. See here for more information.
What applications are available now with fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) apart from communication via one fixed number? Well, all kinds of things to make sure that you can do your work even more easily and efficiently. For example, all your devices will ring when you receive an incoming call: you can choose how you want to handle the call. And if you can't take it, for example because you're in a meeting, a colleague can take the call for you. You can set this option automatically yourself. Do you want to take a call? You can do that too. What's more, you can do as much video conferencing as you like via your computer or your mobile device, as if you were sitting together in the same room.
Smarter and more efficient communication and collaboration: ultimately, that’s what unified communications (UC) gives you.
A single integrated communication platform in your company? Read all about cloud communications