Unified Communications (UC) means a whole lot more than simply making and receiving calls. Today’s solutions can include voicemail-to-email, conferencing and integration with your customer relationship management (CRM) system.
However, UC means different things to different people, so we’d like to bust some myths and answer some key questions about UC:
What’s behind the jargon?
You’ve probably heard vendors using terms such as PBX and UCaaS, but what do they mean?
Private Branch Exchange (PBX), is a private telephone network used within an organisation to communicate both internally and externally. Traditionally an on-premise solution, companies can now opt for cloud hosting which is often interchangeable with Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).
UCaaS offers a wide range of communications applications and services in a cloud model.
What functionality does UC offer?
Unlike many enterprise solutions, there is no standardised definition of UC. What one vendor might consider part of a standard package, another would offer as an add-on, or not at all.
A true telephony-based platform will offer functions such as call parking, hot-desking and dialling from the screen as standard. When selecting a UC solution, make sure you know what functionality is included in the package you are offered – for example, are licenses, handsets and call centre functionality all part of the deal?
Is there anything to be wary of?
Watch out for hidden costs. A careful read of the small print should identify any additional payments you will need to make for licencing or add-on hardware. But if in doubt, check with the vendor so you know exactly what your capital outlay on UC will be.
A key benefit of a cloud-hosted platform is regular software upgrades, so check these upgrades are included in the price too.
Will UC help with mobile working?
In today’s competitive world, you can’t afford for your employees to be tied to a desk and a phone.
Most UC solutions enable you to make calls from your main office number wherever you are, as long as there’s WiFi connectivity.
Some solutions allow customers to use their iOS or Android smartphones as a full extension of their company phone including video calling, call recording, detailed call history, call forwarding and waiting – giving them full office functionality when they are on the move.
Is UC scalable?
None of us know what the future will hold, but if your business grows you will certainly want a UC solution that will grow with you.
Some UC offerings are more flexible than others, but the best option for a growing business is a scalable solution with a simple pricing model. Each time a new employee joins the team, you want to:
- simply contact your provider and ask for a new handset
- plug in the handset
- download a licence
and your new team member is up and running.
How secure is hosted UC?
Security is a factor when considering any hosted service, and it is certainly something you should ask a prospective vendor about.
Talk to your provider about how their network is protected from fraud.
- Is the network regularly refreshed?
- Does the provider look out for unusual activity on the network?
- Will they alert you to suspicious call times and destinations?
Ask about disaster recovery (DR) too and make sure the provider offers a robust DR strategy and failover capability to safeguard your data.
Is vendor reputation important?
Selecting a hosted UC service is critical to the success of your business, so you need to establish the credibility of a vendor.
Hosted telephony providers vary in terms of background and experience, so it’s important to be sure that your solution has been set up and configured by experts. Ask to see references of the prospective vendor, look for reviews and case studies from their customers to see how satisfied they are with the service.
ASL can help you choose a Unified Communications solution to help make your working life easier. Find the right solution for your business.