Business communications have come a long way in recent decades. From clunky office fax machines to lightning-speed instant messaging apps, we've changed how we interact for the better.
But with so many options out there, it can be difficult to find cohesion, particularly in the new hybrid working norm. That's where a unified communications (UC) strategy can come in handy.
In short, this refers to the integration of your business's digital communications. This includes your: instant messaging applications, email systems, file sharing tools, video conferencing software, and telephony systems.
With the right UC strategy, you can:
- Enhance productivity
- Reduce costs
- Streamline IT operations
- Improve user experience
But how exactly do you go about building a strategy fit for your business?
Let's walk through four best practices.
1. Evaluate your communication needs
Start by deciding where in your business you'd like to roll out your unified communications. Will your whole company adopt these methods, or will it be confined to one department?
From there, you'll also want to consider:
- Your working arrangements. For remote or hybrid working models, you'll want to carefully consider the tools you select. If you also promote a 'bring your own device' (BYOD) policy, you'll want to incorporate mobile applications and devices into your unified communications strategy.
- Employee and customer preferences. This is perhaps the most crucial information you'll need to gather. How best do your employees and customers communicate? What methods make them feel most at ease and productive?
- IT alignment. Think about how your UC strategy will align with your current IT systems and teams. Who will help to roll out the technology and keep it secure? Do you have the internal resources or will you need a managed service provider?
2. Decide your course: on-premise, cloud, or both?
Cloud-based UC is becoming increasingly popular. So much so, that the number of unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) users is set to hit 11.3 million by 2024.
Of course, you don't have to follow this trend. You have the option of choosing on-premise systems, cloud platforms, or a mixture of both. It all depends on your business needs.
Cloud UC vendors tend to offer more modern, remote-friendly features, such as video calling and analytics, that on-premise solutions struggle to keep up with. They also rely on less onsite support, which can be helpful if you don't have many IT resources in-house.
However, if your office doesn't have high-speed internet or WAN connections, an on-premise or hybrid approach might be the best option.
3. Select your tools
Now, you'll want to select the tools in your arsenal. Based on your requirements, this may be one tool or a list of different tools.
For instance, you may choose to use Microsoft Teams for video conferencing, messaging and telephony, and Dropbox for file sharing.
For cost purposes, it makes sense to make the most out of your subscriptions. For example, if you're already utilising Microsoft 365, it'd be more economical to use the full breadth of the Microsoft tool suite. In which case, you may opt to use OneDrive instead of Dropbox.
Again, it's up to your employee preferences and business use cases.
4. Train your employees
Your unified communications strategy can only come to fruition with proper training.
Beyond increasing efficiency and user experience with software, tool, and device training, you'll also want to incorporate data security and privacy training. This is especially important if you allow remote or hybrid working
Indeed, only 27 percent of employees are 'very confident' in securing their work information when remote working.
If you can't accommodate this training in-house, we'd recommend reaching out to an expert security training provider.
Chart your unified communications roadmap
Unified communication is becoming an increasingly important part of every organisation's technology stack. But to reap its benefits, you'll need to get your strategy right.
From determining your use cases to selecting your tools, make sure you plan your roadmap as thoroughly as possible. That way, when it comes to implementing your new UC infrastructure, you'll have a better head start.
However, if you find you need some extra support, please contact us. We'd be happy to offer further tips on the best tactics and tools available.