When the concept of unified communications (UC) was launched, it opened a world of communications opportunities to firms across the globe. The ability to integrate disparate communications systems, media, devices and applications has enabled organisations to work more efficiently.
However, UC has traditionally been the domain of large enterprises and
requires more effective
collaboration, as geographically dispersed teams become more commonplace. Until now.
SMEs are now able to take advantage of tailored versions of technologies, such as storage, security and high-speed broadband. If there are solutions that can be managed by SMEs for these technologies, it is therefore only logical that there be the same for UC.
Imagine you are the boss of your own small retail business with 50 employees. With UC, you can send staff wherever you want and they will know where their colleagues are physically located say, their car, home or office. UC also provides users with the ability to use their preferred mode of communication at any given time mobile, email, instant messaging and so on.
UC helps businesses to improve the delivery of information and minimise human delay, which results in better, faster interaction and service delivery for the customer and cost savings for the business. Indeed, Gartner has stated that “the largest single value of UC is its ability to reduce ‘human latency’ in business processes”.
Not only does it improve the standard of customer services provided by a company, it also facilitates easier, more direct collaboration between co-workers, suppliers and clients.
SMEs are beginning to see the benefits that UC can bring to their business and, as they look to expand, they are likely to continue to exploit it. They need to deliver excellent levels of customer service to maintain a professional image, respond quickly to customer feedback and maintain customer confidence.
UC is enabling communication techniques, previously unheard of in the SME industry, which allow firms to maintain a competitive edge and help them to develop and expand in a truly collaborative way.
Bernadette Wightman is head of SMB at Cisco UK & Ireland
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