Tag Archives: unified communications

Potential sticking points to unified communications

Unified communications has turned the workplace on its head, making home sweet home the new office place. Workers are kissing traffic jams good-bye, and the "daily grind," if you can even call it that, is measured in feet, not miles. To what extent? Well, In 2015, roughly 25 percent of employees worked from home on any given day, based on the latest estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And over the past decade, telecommuting has risen a whopping 115 percent, according to Global Workplace Analytics.

Unified communications has brought convenience back to the modern workplace. It streamlines the interaction process so individuals near and far can talk work through a single server, whether via the cloud, IP telephony or the numerous other channels that fall under the UC umbrella.

Afraid of the cloud? Don't be

Here's the sticking point, though: Businesses aren't exactly flocking to the cloud in droves. In fact, while 70 percent of business owners have at least considered using one communication provider rather than several, according to statistics compiled by Inc., only 19 percent have actually pulled the trigger, this according to computer security services firm Bird Rock Systems.

Why the slow transition? For one, change is always hard, especially for those who prefer face-to-face interaction. Cybersecurity is never far from business owners' minds, either, and unfamiliarity with the cloud can bring those thoughts to the fore. 

Just remember that being unacquainted with cloud computing security shouldn't suggest that it lacks in protection. In fact, According to Clutch, 90 percent of companies who use the cloud for data storage find it to be as good or better than an on-site servers at protecting their information!

New technology doesn't always cause headaches 

Because UC systems makes their bones by facilitating multiple communications systems, your mind may associate UC with technical problems. That's why selecting the right partner is so critical – wink, wink. But really, great customer service and a best-in-class network can go a long way.

Plus, companies are already planning ahead for these types of adjustments, as 21 percent of CIOs say they'll add full-time tech professionals to their staff this year, according to a poll from Robert Half. Why? Twenty-four percent said it had to do with cloud migration or big data.

From efficiency to productivity, increased engagement to cost containment, the return on investment makes unified communications the business solution that simply gets the job done – both inside and outside the office.

5 Tips on Moving to the Cloud

Move to the cloudCloud computing will continue to grow over the next few years. If your business is done with handling bulky, expensive on-premises IT systems, consider moving to the cloud today. It’ll free up IT resources, streamline and add to your productivity, enable your remote workers, provide business recovery benefits and more.

If you’re like most people, though, you have fears of moving to the cloud — from talking with employees about which data moves to security. Address those fears and get the most out of your move. Here are five tips on how to start:

1. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing

You don’t have to be fully on-premises or in the cloud. Many companies benefit from a hybrid IT environment. If you don’t believe you can move all your operations to the cloud, choose the ones that you can and keep the rest in-house.

2. Create goals

You need to develop a mix of short- and long-term goals for what you want to accomplish through moving to the cloud. This way, you’ll know you’ll be on track for reaching your main objective — a successful cloud migration.

3. Improve communication channels

Everyone should be in the loop during a major IT system restructuring like this. Take time to keep everyone informed and give periodic updates or hold Q&A sessions to give employees a chance to respond. This involves bringing them into the process before decisions are made. This will increase buy-in and ensure a higher adoption rate.

4. Address security concerns

Due to many high-profile data breaches in recent years, your clients and personnel may be concerned about the security risks from a cloud migration. Despite these worries, many companies actually boost their security abilities by switching to a cloud storage provider. Address their concerns to alleviate fears.

5. Use this time to consolidate and reorder data

Like spring cleaning, moving to a cloud-based data center is a great time to consolidate and get rid of excessive data or structures that are no longer relevant or needed. Again, you don’t have to do all or nothing.

Need more tips?

Get more information in our ebook (PDF), Move to the Cloud. You can even start small and move your communications system to the cloud.

Go Cloud Communications

5 Tips to Grow Your Business

As a small business, you may feel at a loss as to how you should effectively grow your operations. If you’re looking to expand or improve profit margins in the new year, here are five tips you might benefit from.

1. Simplify and reduce costs

Focusing your strategy, focusing on best-selling products, focusing on your target consumers … there are many ways to simplify your business to promote future growth. Reduce overhead costs and build up your core team in order to lay the firm foundation on which you hope to flourish. Costs can be associated with your outdated phone system to ineffective communications.

You can also simplify your employment strategy by hiring freelancers or giving up the office you don’t need, and the expenses, and enable your team to work remotely. Roughly $24 / month is easier to swallow than thousands for a downtown office. Reducing costs by simplfying is easier than you think.

2. Reach out to prospects and customers

how a business owner can grow a businessSuccessful marketing tactics revolve around meeting the average consumer where they are. And where most consumers are at is on social media. Build meaningful customer relationships online! Don’t forget a content marketing plan, including webinars.

3. Embrace data

Many small businesses are afraid of data-informed decision-making because they believe it’s costly or won’t support their specific needs. This isn’t the case, as many analytics websites are free or low-cost, such as Google Analytics. Start measuring your progress today!

4. Use video marketing

Most consumers would rather watch content than read it today, which is why video marketing tools are so integral for growing small businesses. If you want to stand apart from your competitors, put videos on your homepage, in your marketing emails, on your social media pages and on your blog.

5. Move to unified communications

Whether you move away from desk phones to enable mobile devices or upgrade your web and video conferencing tools, you need to unify and strengthen your business’s communication strategy. By choosing one vendor, you can save money while providing communications to your company.

Don’t Get a Desk Phone

So there’s a phone on my desk that presumably cost ReadyTalk a lot of money, but I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t actually use it and I don’t really even want it. Ever since I said goodbye to my sales role and joined the Innovation department last April, I’ve probably used the phone on my desk no more than 15 times. The last person I spoke with on my office phone was my mom.

Oh, and by the way — it’s my job to do customer interviews (talking to people, usually on the phone) for said Innovation department … and I still don’t want a desk phone.

the desk phone that's never usedI know I am not alone when I say that I hate talking on the phone. Many of my millennial kin are also averse to making phone calls.

It’s no surprise, then, that text-based communication services like Slack and Facebook Messenger have taken off, with younger users who came up through the ranks of AOL Instant Messenger. Plus, I really like the iPhone I carry around with me everywhere anyway — why can’t I just use that for everything?

Well, for me and people like me, we are fortunate to live in the times of cloud communications with unified communications (UC) clients. Shameless plug alert: A robust hosted solution, like ReadyTalk’s Hosted Voice offering, can allow organizations to embrace BYOD, empower their workforce for mobility, prepare themselves for the future of communications, and turn them into a top destination for prospective employees.

Accepting that Millennials will be dictating office behavior for the foreseeable future, let me explain why the move away from desk phones isn’t all bad for IT Directors (and maybe HR, too):

Embrace BYOD and empower your workforce for mobility

You know better than I do that BYOD (bring your own device) isn’t going anywhere. When I was at my last company, an anti-virus provider, there was some fleeting hope that IT departments may be able to at least stem the tide of personal devices on professional networks. Alas, that never actually happened. The smartphone has revolutionized how we get work done; embrace that change and save yourself the headache of managing hardware while leaving upgrading devices to your end users.

Prepare yourself for the future of communications: Video

Video isn’t coming, it’s here. There will be no communication medium more important in the future of work than video (Shameless plug number 2: FoxDen, our video conferencing product is pretty cool). You know what can’t do video right now? My desk phone. You know what can do video right now? The smartphone sitting on my desk.

Turn your company into a destination for the job seekers of the future

budget beatersSo there’s this whole remote work trend … that’s only increasing. More and more, folks are looking for flexibility from their employers as to where they can work. The number of websites for remote job seekers has exploded of late and the ability to offer a remote experience to employees is becoming a more important differentiator for employers. This is particularly salient considering the inches of snow we’re receiving in Denver today. I can’t drive in, but I can still work.

If you already have desk phones, don’t fret. The best part about a well-designed hosted voice solution is that it should be able to insert itself into your existing environment without any issues — all while driving the benefits outlined above. There’s no need to rip out existing infrastructure, though a move to a hosted voice solution could provide a great opportunity for hardware consolidation.

Make smartphones smarter and still use Polycoms

I mentioned above that I do customer interviews but I don’t use my desk phone — that’s because I typically take advantage of our huddle rooms (equipped with phones) for their privacy. Not only could you reduce the hardware you need to manage today, you can cut back on the hardware you have to buy in the future as employees can be provisioned on their smartphones. There will always be some employees who need a desk phone (Hello, Sales across the globe) but even they can benefit from a softphone client on their personal devices. That means they can accept phone calls on-the-go, including from their houses or on the train to ensure they make that deal.

Goodbye desk phone, hello cloud phone

The move to ReadyTalk’s Hosted Voice hosted communication solution will empower your employees to do their jobs better because it will enable them to work how (and where) they’d like to. It will also save organizations a ton of headaches around technology management.

The Power of Streamlining Communications

Companies have been using email, mobile phones, instant messaging (IM) and video conferencing for years. Unfortunately, internet protocol-based phone systems are all too often segregated because they are separate communications avenues. Voice over IP (VoIP) makes it hard to unify these systems, even if it makes it easier to communicate.

unified communicationsEnter ReadyTalk. We want to unify communications to make it easier on our customers. For one, we’ve heard this is an issue. And two, well — we think we can do something about it. It’s why in November, we launched hosted voice. Hosted unified communications (UC) – otherwise known as cloud communications and hosted voice – brings all these tools together, improving collaboration, connection, engagement and communication.

What’s in a name?

UC, hosted voice, cloud communications, cloud telephony — it’s all the same. It sounds jargony, but it’s really about simplifying communications. The basic idea is it takes lots of different systems and makes them seamless … integrated.

Why UC?

It incorporates IP telephony, conferencing, softphones, and presence into a company’s workflow, all under one roof. It can improve productivity and reduce costs. And it’s best when you can go to one company to deliver all these communication solutions together.

Reduced cost

Many UC benefits such as productivity gains and can be more difficult to quantify. However, there’s discernible cost savings, too; UC cuts costs. Hosted voice is able to route internal calls over their data network, lowering long-distance fees, maintenance costs and support costs by as much as 25%. And once a hosted voice is in place, the costs for moving, adding, changing and deleting users goes away.

Better communication

Intangible benefits are harder to define. The best returns come from improved communication, which have several benefits like enhanced customer service and revenue stimulation, where having faster access to information results in sales closing faster and invoices being sent out sooner.

Think about speed. With UC, end users gain access to all of their communications tools – email, calendars, telephony, real-time communications and corporate directory – in a single interface offers a major productivity boost. Instead of having separate interfaces for checking email, making appointments, placing telephone calls, or having instant messaging conversations, all of this can take place in one interface.

Flexibility for workers

The use of one interface for all communications allow employees greater flexibility in where they work – on-site, at home or in their local coffee shop. For example, using a UC system an employee can be just as productive at home or in a hotel room as he or she is in the office. That means that teleworking is easier, leading to improved employee morale and greater employer flexibility in hiring employees independently of their geographic location.

Faster decisions

Beyond better and faster communications, workers can make faster decisions. An employee sitting in an airport or at home can receive calls or conduct instant messaging conversations just as if he or she was at their desk. This eliminates much of the “telephone” tag that takes place in business today.

Greener companies

For those organizations focused on “green” initiatives, UC can support these initiatives in several ways, including reducing the number of individual systems and power requirements that a company must support, reducing employee travel into the office by allowing them to work remotely more often, and minimizing the amount of floor space in an office by allowing employees to use the “hoteling” concept – i.e., coming into an office location only when necessary.

Compared to standalone solutions, UC systems can provide any organization with a number of important benefits that include lower IT labor expenditures, greater employee productivity, faster decision-making and lower real estate costs. While there are a number of vendors and delivery models that can be used to deploy hosted UC, appliance-based or hosted solutions will typically be the best choice for SMBs and SMEs given the relatively high cost per seat for on-premise solutions and the lower deployment and management expertise possessed by many smaller firms.

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