When you open those big, beautiful office doors in the morning, who’s the very first person to say hello? And this doesn’t mean grumbling and eyebrow movement. Who’s the first person to bestow you with a full-fledged and completely audible “hello”?
Or does no one say anything?
What about when your coworkers start to leave work in the late afternoon? Does anyone say goodbye? Or do they all slip out just as ninja-like as they slipped in? Or are you the ninja, quietly entering and exiting the building every day?]
Whatever the case might be, the point is that everyone communicates differently. Some people think it’s completely acceptable to enter a room and not say hello to anyone. And other people would never dare enter a room without greeting everyone within sight.
In other words, viewpoints on communication will vary by upbringing, culture, personality, and environment, and of course, this all extends above and beyond simply greeting people in the morning.
But nonetheless, whether we communicate the same or not … communication is still a critical component of a business. With a subpar communication platform, coworkers (who are already struggling to communicate) will struggle to do much of anything with each other. And if this platform is restrictive in any way, then that struggle will be even more present.
Just as people greet each other in different ways, they also communicate about projects, tasks, ideas, and other work-related topics in different ways. All in all, a limited platform will only equate to limited communication.
From customer service and collaboration to efficiency and morale, limited communication will negatively affect every facet of your business.
Luckily, however, modern technologies and platforms have made it much easier to acquire and maintain open and unrestricted communication in the workplace. And these days, people are accomplishing this through unified communications.
But what exactly is unified communications? Well, let’s discuss it, shall we?
What is unified communications?
Unified communications is a term. It is not a thing that can be purchased, and it’s not something you can get a monthly subscription to.
It’s a term that describes the seamless integration of a wide variety of communication tools. These tools should integrate in real-time with each other to create a “unified” and synchronous communication platform.
But the integration of these tools happens at a deeper level — with the cabling, wiring, and infrastructure it’s all built around.
Think about it this way:
You have a video conference in less than 90 seconds. You rush to the conference room, take your seat at the table, and with a few clicks of the mouse, power on the video equipment.
Notice how you didn’t have to manually turn on any video cameras. You didn’t have to fumble with any cords or cables. And you didn’t have to make sure everything was connected to each other, the internet included. You just sat down and started communicating.
Let’s continue with the story.
The video conference concludes. It was a success, but it ran a little long — which means you probably missed a few business calls. You take a look at your personal cell phone, and realize that your first thought was correct. Your phone shows four missed calls and two new voicemails.
You quickly open your laptop, take a look at your email, and read through your latest voicemails. You have a meeting across town in ten minutes, but one voicemail appears to be urgent. You open an app on your phone, touch a few buttons, and as you get into your car, call back the person who left the urgent voicemail.
There are a few things to notice here.
For starters, all of your missed business calls showed up on your personal cell phone. This is because when you aren’t at your desk, calls are forwarded to your cell phone after a few rings — keeping things seamless and mobile.
Next, you were able to read your voicemails from your laptop. Your voicemails can be read because of a common VoIP feature known as voicemail-to-email. This feature embraces a person’s need to communicate on different levels and in different ways.
After you read the voicemail, you were able to call someone on your cellphone, using your office line, and all thanks to a mobile application.
Now this is only one example of how a unified communications platform can work. Depending on your team, clients, and day-to-day operations, your communication needs will vary — as will your UC platform. As an example, not every company needs video conferencing capabilities — this being said, it doesn’t exactly hurt to have the ability to hop on a video conference (especially when it can be so easy).
The point is — no matter what your needs are — communication should be seamless, promote efficiency, and be handled in real time. A properly set up UC platform allows all of this to happen.
But wait … how does VoIP fit in?
VoIP was discreetly thrown into the UC example from earlier, and that wasn’t done on accident. VoIP is a major player in the communications game and can drastically improve the way you and your coworkers communicate with one another.
Realistically, VoIP is the future of business communication (and, for many, the present, as well). But what exactly is VoIP and why is it a major component of business communication?
Let’s break it down.
For starters, let’s cover what VoIP actually stands for — Voice over Internet Protocol. It might sound complicated, but it’s really just a fancy way of saying that you make and receive calls on an internet connection.
If you’re struggling to understand how this works, just think of an app like Google Duo or even Facebook Messenger. You can download either app on your phone and make or receive video or voice calls. In this situation, you don’t use your “minutes” to make calls; instead, you use Wi-Fi.
Technically, this is considered a form of VoIP. In fact, Messenger has even advertised its ability to hold multi-person video and voice conferences — and for free. This means a business could — if they wanted to — rely on Facebook to communicate (although it’s probably not the most ideal choice).
But how exactly does all of this benefit a company? Why is VoIP considered the future of business communication, and other than operating via an internet connection, how does it differ from the traditional phone system?
Well, the benefits alone can answer all three of these questions.
Unlike the traditional phone system, both installing and maintaining VoIP is free of hassle. It requires no fancy wiring or cabling, and in some cases, you even have the option to use your pre-existing phones. So if you’re in need of an additional line, it doesn’t require a large time investment or a ton of hassle (for you or the provider).
VoIP is a platform that promotes mobility and on-the-go efficiency. Think about the story from earlier — where you were able to use a mobile app to make calls from out of the office. You don’t have to be sitting at your desk to communicate with coworkers, partners, or even clients. You can be anywhere you need to be — as long as an internet connection is available.
The traditional phone system can get pretty expensive for a business — especially if you make a large amount of long distance phone calls. On top of this, if you need additional features or services throughout the month, those will quickly add up. VoIP, on the other hand, has been said to reduce communication costs upwards of 50%. This is because most features are automatic, and the cost of long-distance calling is no longer a huge issue (because again, all you need is that internet connection).
Sure, the features are automatic — but where things get really beneficial for the business is when you contemplate what types of features are included with VoIP. In the story from before, there was that voicemail-to-email feature. But that’s only just the beginning. Consider desktop integration, call forwarding, hot desking, auto attendant, conferencing, and more.
The benefits of VoIP are enormous, and clearly, they showcase a few of the major differences between VoIP and the traditional phone service.
But before we go any further …
Let’s take a moment to recognize one major benefit that hasn’t really been discussed yet — call forwarding. With this one seemingly simple feature, an entire business can be saved.
Just think about it.
Say your business goes up in flames … or it’s in the path of a tornado, hurricane, or other natural disaster. Once all is said and done, you might have nothing. But to get things started again, you need communication. With VoIP, maintaining that line of communication is a much more doable feat than if you had a traditional phone system.
There would be no need to purchase new equipment or to spend loads of man hours figuring out how to redirect calls. his is merely a built-in feature of VoIP. Simply transfer the calls to your personal cell phone or use your home laptop to keep in contact with coworkers, clients, and partners. It’s the same number, just with different equipment (and typically equipment you already have at your disposal).
While this might seem like it isn’t a big deal, in a disaster-type situation it’s a huge deal. It’s one less thing and one less cost to worry about. It’s business continuity for your conversations … your collaboration … your ability to stay on the same page.
You can learn more about the benefits of VoIP by reading our latest report, The top 5 benefits of VoIP that will modernize your conversations.
Okay, okay … but video conferencing has been mentioned a lot.
You’re right. So far, video conferencing has been a common theme throughout this entire article.
Well, it’s simple, really. Video conferencing is a key component of unified communications because these days, it’s how people want to communicate.
Whether you’ve realized it yet or not, video conferencing can go above and beyond any voice conference you’ll ever have. And this is true for a number of reasons.
The Human Element
Clearly, the greatest benefit of video conferencing is the fact that you can see the person (or people) you’re talking to. In a sense, this humanizes your conversations — which can come in handy if you often find yourself talking to remote employees or to vendors and clients located in other cities.
Instead of collaborating with a “voice,” you’re now collaborating with a person. It’s easier to build a relationship with a coworker or partner (and to trust that person) when you actually know who that person is and what that person looks like.
When it comes to communication, most people believe the 7% rule. This rule says that words only account for 7% of what we say. The rest is made up of tone and body language.
While there are some varying viewpoints on the correct percentage, the idea remains the same — the majority of what we say simply can’t be interpreted correctly without seeing the person. Video conferencing grants you this capability.
Show and Tell
A phone limits your conversations. All you really have at your disposal is what you can hear and how well you can explain or describe things.
With video conferencing, you no longer have to rely on your conversational abilities to describe projects or ideas. Instead, you can simply show the person what you’re talking about. Or, in some instances, you can share screens with that person — which is incredibly helpful if you’re working on detailed projects or tasks.
With video conferencing, you don’t just have the newfound opportunity to play Show and Tell with coworkers and clients. Your opportunities go much further than that.
Think about how much more plausible it would be to hire remote employees with video conferencing capabilities. At this point, your talent pool gets much larger.
On top of that, think about how much easier it would be to partner with professionals or other businesses outside your city. All in all, video conferencing allows you to compete on a much bigger scale because it can potentially expand your geographical reach.
The benefits of video conferencing can prove to be invaluable to your organization. These benefits can have a role in everyday conversations or play into more strategic collaborations. Either way, that face-to-face involvement is critical to successful communication.
But how does all of this fit into each other?
So you have VoIP, video conferencing, and the UC platform it’s all built off of. But how do all of the moving pieces speak to each other?
Sure, the physical infrastructure helps everything work and work well (your video conferencing is basically push-to-play and the phones themselves work great). But how are you able to use a mobile application to speak to clients and how are you able to access voicemails from your email no matter where you are or what device you’re using?
Say hello to the cloud.
Interestingly enough, many people often use the term “VoIP” and “cloud-based communications” interchangeably. And while the two terms are very similar (very, very similar), they are not 100% the same. There are few key differences.
However, cloud-based communication paves a path towards unified communications. This is because a cloud phone system is VoIP, but it’s also more than that.
It allows you to integrate with a variety of apps.
You remember that mobile app mentioned earlier? Well, with a cloud-based phone system, things can go a bit further than that. We’re talking real-time analytics, click-to-call functionality, and various forms of instant messaging. This is when you take your communication and spread it out to various platforms — platforms that can reach many different people at many different levels.
Anything is a phone.
Sure, it’s nice to use your mobile phone as your office phone. But what happens when you can use your desktop, laptop, or tablet as your phone? This is when a person can truly customize the way he or she communicates. As long as you have an internet connection present, you can pick and choose what you want to communicate with.
You don’t need in-house resources.
With a hosted VoIP solution (cloud-based communications), you don’t need onsite resources to manage and maintain your communication tools. Instead, that’s all handled by your VoIP provider.
While you may give up some control in this situation (like how quickly a problem is resolved or when your system is upgraded), you’re exchanging it for a fully managed solution. However, if you partner with a reliable VoIP provider, then any problems should be handled quickly and system upgrades might even be automatic — making control a non-issue.
But what’s the bottom line?
VoIP is good for communication — whether you choose a hosted solution or an onsite solution. The features alone make the transition from a traditional phone system worth the effort.
However, if you really want your communication to transform into something modern and truly efficient, then you need to adopt unified communications. This is quickly becoming the best way for companies of all shapes and sizes to communicate in the 21st-century business world.
Here at nimboIP, our approach to unified communications is an innovative one. We offer a unique solution that allows you to use the hardware you want to use, free of licensing, and on a month-to-month basis.
Our goal is to keep your conversations seamless and simple — which is ultimately the key concept behind unified communications. If you want to learn our approach to unified communications in action, then check out one of our case studies.
It was 2008. The real estate market was hurting, and realtors everywhere were closing their doors for good. In an effort to consolidate costs and keep things moving forward, three separate realty firms decided to combine offices. Read their story of unified communications.
A well-known retail company with multiple locations scattered across the great state of Indiana had a major communications problem. Learn how nimboIP transformed their disconnected conversations into something seamless and simple.
If you’d like to learn more about our unified communications solution, then give us a call or send us a message today. We’d love to talk.