Unified Communications is an important business component meant to optimize processes and increase user productivity. It is something that relies on successful technology in order to be utilized to the fullest. As technology has evolved, so has the efficiency of Unified Communications, which is why Five Nines has made it a part of who we are and what we do.
You may be wondering, what exactly is Unified Communications? What is UCaaS vs. Unified Communications? How does it increase productivity? Is it something we already have or is it something we need? Keep reading, and we will answer these initial questions for you.
WHAT IS UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS?
Unified Communications is best defined by Gartner as the products (equipment, software and services) that facilitate the interactive use of multiple enterprise communication methods. In simpler terms, Unified Communications is used when technology is helping automate and unify user and device communications to streamline processes and improve the end-user experience. It's meant to make life easier.
The term Unified Communications goes beyond the definition above, as these solutions can be delivered in two different methods which we will break down for you below.
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UC VS. UCaaS
Simply stating the term Unified Communications (UC) represents on-site solutions requiring hardware and onboarding. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), however, represents cloud delivered solutions. UCaaS has been growing in popularity in recent years, and while both are consistently used, there is a difference between both solutions.
For organizations who already have an established IT environment, it is sometimes preferable to integrate a UC solution into that environment, as they already have the pieces in place needed for a successful transition. UCaaS makes things simple which other businesses also prefer, as it is a solution where users simply have to download and log in. Brands such as Office 365 and Skype utilize UCaaS platforms. According to Grand View Research, the global UC market will exceed $75 billion by 2020. Some organizations will leverage both options, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to Unified Communications.
HOW CAN THESE INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY?
According to a Gartner report, businesses realize just 43% of technology's potential benefits. One benefit they may be missing is the increase in productivity UC and UCaaS provides. Here are some ways Unified Communications in all forms helps to increase productivity in the workplace:
- Effective Communication: UC helps with the ability to communicate frequently, being aware of when colleagues are free or busy, and helps alleviate the stress of playing phone tag.
- Flexibility: UC allows for flexibility. Have remote employees? Giving them the ability to answer incoming communication from a variety of devices will help to increase productivity.
- High Levels of Collaboration: Interaction over multiple platforms is easy to do with UC, and helps promote collaboration across multiple teams in multiple locations through features such as visual collaboration and instant messaging.
Unified Communications and/or UCaaS are both technological assets that should be used within your IT environment. The more consistent, collaborative communication is supported, the more your organization will be able to get done in less time. Increase the level of communication and productivity for your business at the same time by utilizing a Unified Communications solution.
Building an efficient IT solution can make the difference between your workplace technology becoming an asset or a liability. In this webinar, we will discuss how you can make your IT an asset by going over the right tools, processes, and people that will keep your technology running smoothly.
Video conferencing has taken the business world by storm as technology has progressed throughout the years. Because it is such a growing phenomenon for business communication, it can be overwhelming for small-to-medium-sized businesses to determine how this technology should play a role within their organization.
We'd like to help you with your research. Below you will find information about the need for video conferencing equipment in the business world, the potential advantages for business communication, what hardware you would need, as well as how to determine if this technology is worth the investment for your particular organization.
WHAT IS THE NEED?
According to a study conducted by IDC, video conferencing is becoming more and more prevalent as last year 64% of companies had video conferencing setups in small "huddle" rooms that sat five or fewer individuals. These setups help connect meetings for all aspects of your business, whether it's internally or externally. Studies have shown that 87% of professionals say they feel more connected and engaged with their colleagues as video conferencing technology has increased in connectivity. The same goes for clients who cannot travel to you as well. In today's world, meetings can be anywhere at any time with the right technology in place. Like any business tool, the rise in video conference calls are due to a rise in productivity and effective business communication efforts. These advantages have led to video conferencing technology becoming more of a priority for organizations.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?
Whether it's a company wanting to connect with remote employees, link multiple offices together for a meeting, reduce unnecessary travel expenses, or simply streamline a voice call so that everyone can see who is speaking, there are plenty of advantages to having video conferencing technology at your disposal. Companies are able to meet more frequently with a higher attendance rate, and they can be there for their clients in a way that feels more personal if their clients are not within driving distance. 65% of individuals also believe that video conferencing is the best method of screen sharing and collaborating on content. Five Nines utilizes Skype for Business (soon to be rebranded to Microsoft Teams) for video conferencing needs, and our team has the ability to host an HD meeting with up to 250 participants, share our presentations, collaborate on an Office document together in real time, poll our audience for feedback, and remotely share control of workstations from anywhere so we can best assist our partners. Reducing costs and increasing efficiency is the best equation when analyzing the investment on a piece of technology.
WHAT HARDWARE WOULD WE NEED?
Your hardware needs are as unique as the room you are putting a conferencing system in. A small-to-medium-sized conference room with a flat screen TV on the wall would do well with an all-in-one camera/speaker/microphone mounted underneath the TV, but you may need to move the TV up higher on the wall to make sure the camera can view everyone at the table. A larger conference room with a long table and an over-head projector will need a front or side wall mounted camera, multiple microphones, and multiple speakers to accommodate everyone and ensure a consistent experience. Acoustics can also play a large role in conference quality. If you have a room with a noticeable echo, you should look to adding sound dampening wall panels or acoustic ceiling tiles to reduce the reverberations.
Interested in the possibility of video conferencing equipment, but not sure where to start? Click below to request a free IT Assessment of your environment, no strings attached.
IS IT WORTH THE INVESTMENT?
From the outside looking in, you might not think video conferencing equipment is something your business needs. Perhaps you are thinking that all of your employees are in the same office, or all of your clients are driving distance from you. Video conferencing might not be necessary for every organization, but it can streamline meetings for almost every business. Investing in video conferencing equipment would make the most sense for organizations who have several locations that need to work together, have the need to host all-staff meetings, but do not have enough space to host all users at once, or who need to have the ability to connect with clients more quickly than driving to them.
Video conferencing helps to build the feeling of connectedness with your remote workers or clients you cannot meet with face-to-face. Having the ability to see the individual you are meeting with helps participants to be actively engaged, pick up on body language or visual cues, and keeps your meetings efficient and timely. Investing in video conferencing equipment is worth the consideration, as it can change your whole meeting dynamic and productivity.
Interested in learning more about Skype for Business as well as why Office 365 is more than just email? Click below to download our free Five Nines webinar about Office 365 tools that enhance collaboration and how Five Nines helps clients leverage Office 365 tools and packages.
In today's world, technology is on-the-go and there are no trends to show that this on-the-go tech culture will change anytime soon. According to a poll conducted by Gallup, in 2017 43% of Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely. Working remotely is becoming more and more popular, whether it is a part of company culture or for special circumstances.
We want you to know that it's okay to go remote, and that working on your devices outside of the office can still be safe and reliable. Whether it's a common trend in your organization or not, the ability for employees to access their work remotely is always good for unexpected, on-the-go work.
Here are some things to think about when configuring your IT environment for remote work.
A VPN, or a virtual private network, is a way to connect to a remote site securely, while using a standard Internet connection. The most common remote access VPN used today is secured via Secure Socket Layer or SSL. This is essentially security technology that protects your data as you pass between the web server and different browsers. Your VPN can be configured to tailor your organization's needs and make working remotely efficient and protected without your employees having to take any extra steps.
There are a few steps every business should take to ensure users can connect remotely. First, you must ensure a remote access VPN is licensed and configured properly on your firewall. Your IT team should also ensure an SSL certificate is purchased so it can be used for the remote access VPN for added protection. Doing this will limit many common cyber threats.
On the remote employees' side, they must have a reliable Internet connection as well as a home network. It is typically fine to work in places such as coffee shops, but users must be aware that they could experience a poor connection from time to time as those networks are used by many outside devices.
Remote solutions are going to look different for every organization, as it varies based on the type of IT environment a company is utilizing. For example, other business class solutions that would allow for employees to remotely access their work are Citrix NetScaler and Microsoft Remote Desktop Gateway. If you are currently using Citrix for published applications or desktops, the Citrix NetScaler option might work best for you as it would be a straight-forward process that would allow for SSL encrypted remote access to the Citrix resources. If your company uses predominantly Remote Desktop Services, the implementation of a remote desktop gateway will allow for remote access by the user.
If your employees are encouraged to work from home if needed, make sure your organization is protected while doing so. If remote work isn't as common for your employees, it's still an important aspect to focus on so that if the opportunity arises the user is protected. Life happens, and sometimes there are no other options than for a user to work remotely. Make sure your organization is prepared.
If you're curious about more ways to collaborate with your team from anywhere through technological tools, click below for a free Five Nines webinar that dives into why Office 365 is more than just an email tool.