Thursday, August 29, 2013

Unified Communications for the SMB

By: John Shepler

Large companies long ago latched onto the concept of unified communications to improve the efficiency of their business telephone systems and the productivity of their employees. UC, as it is called, may have started out in major enterprises, but it is working its way into the small and medium size businesses. Why? For the same benefits the big companies achieve.

See how cloud hosted unified communications can offer cost and productivity advantages for your small and medium size business...Just what is unified communications? The idea behind UC is that electronic business communications has spread way beyond the corded desk phone. Oh, desk phones are still a staple of any office. But now we have cell phones, smart phones, tablets, laptops, notebooks and the desktop PC. You can treat these as complete separate devices or unify them so that they work as a single system.

Why not stick with separate devices for different uses? One big problem is that we don’t sit at our desks all day. We may be moving around in the office, taking meetings, making sales calls to clients, visiting job sites and collaborating with peers outside the company.

We always did those things, right? True. But how did you stay in touch? Decades ago, pay phones were an important business tool. If you had the option, you left a forwarding number with the secretary when you left the premises. Important clients had your home phone number as well as the office number printed on your business card. If nothing else worked, you could always depend on the answering machine or, later, voice mail.

Sure, this approach works even today. But why are you doing it the old school way when your competitors are embracing the latest technology. While a sales prospect or customer with a big problem sits frustrated after leaving you a voice message, the competition is taking their call while walking down the street. The five members of your committee grind to a halt because you had to leave the office and can’t vote on the issue needing resolution. That company across the street keeps humming along because every member of their team is always connected.

What unified communications does is tie together different communications devices so they work together. No need to list a half dozen phone numbers on your business card and hope a caller has the patience to call each number in order to see if you happen to answer. UC gives you a single phone number and your calls will always get to you no matter where you are.

Cbeyond, a major telecommunications and cloud services provider, is moving unified communications from major enterprises to small and mid-sized businesses. They’re doing this with a new suite of services called “Communications on the Go.” The emphasis is on including smartphones as part of the business communications system. Within that realm, Cbeyond is offering cloud based communications, managed network services, and integration of smartphones, desk phones and computing devices. What this means is that you have access to the same calling features regardless of where you are or what device you are using. You have one phone number and one business phone system to learn.

Cloud communications, also called hosted VoIP, is a real enabler for unified communications. Yes, you can accomplish many of the same things with your own in-house PBX. However, you have the grief of having to cough up a major capital investment to get the equipment and the ongoing maintenance expenses of keeping everything up to data and secure. By moving your communications to the cloud, you move to a cost model of paying for the features you need when you need them. It’s easy to add and subtract users or make changes when people move around. The service provider has ownership of the infrastructure and network connections needed to deliver all the capacity and functionality you need. From your perspective, your unified communications services are infinitely large and always up to date.

Are you looking for a more effective and less costly way to communicate within your business and to your customers? This is a good time to find out what cloud hosted unified communications has to offer for your business, large, medium or small.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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