A unified communication solution is designed to improve employee communication within the enterprise, which can result in a number of benefits in today’s digital workplace.
Communication, after all, affects everything from teamwork to the employee experience to productivity.
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Read on to learn what a unified communication solution is, how they work, and how they can benefit your organization.
What Problem Does a Unified Communication Solution Solve?
Unified communication solutions are platforms that, as the name suggests, are designed to unify communications within a business.
More specifically, they are designed to simplify and integrate the multitude of communication tools that we use on an everyday basis.
On the surface, this may not seem like a very important problem to solve.
Yet as anyone who as worked in inefficient workplaces knows, poor communication setups can be quite problematic. At best, inefficient communications are merely an annoyance. At worst, however, they can create significant roadblocks to productivity, increase error rates, and even create an unpleasant work environment.
In short – unified communication systems can overcome these issues by combining multiple communication tools into a single platform.
What Unified Communication Solutions Do
Instead of using several different apps to handle internal communications, these systems are apps that consolidate all of the most important communication channels and tasks, including:
The goal of these platforms is to do away with the headaches associated with fragmented communication.
The Benefits of Unified Communication Solutions
There are several advantages to unifying communication into a single platform, as mentioned above:
- Employees don’t need to hop between apps to communicate with each other or with customers
- Unified communication solutions are remote-friendly, which means they are ideal for a remote workforce
- Employees that have a one-stop communication solution are less prone to making mistakes, becoming frustrated, or losing time
- A more streamlined workplace helps employees do their jobs more effectively, which can positively impact customers
Ultimately, better communication produces a better workplace, which can translate into a better employee experience, a better customer experience, and more profits.
That being said, not all unified communication solutions are the same – some are better than others, some are tailored to specific industries, and some have specific use cases.
Types of Unified Communication Solutions
Here are a few of the areas of specialization within unified communication platforms:
- Scheduling, calling, and collaboration
- Video conferencing, on-demand video, and live streaming
- One-stop communication tools for employees
- Customized communication stacks that fit the client business’s needs
On top of their communication features, some unified communication tools deliver additional features, such as change management tools, security tools, and productivity tools.
Since communication tools are inherently linked to collaboration and productivity, this certainly makes sense, so it is worth shopping around and comparing tools to assess what types of features they offer.
How to Choose a Unified Communication Solution
As with any business software solution, unified communication solutions are digital adoption investments. Choosing the right one is most often about finding the solution that fits one’s own specific needs, rather than finding “the best” solution in the industry.
Here are a few questions to ask when creating a vendor shortlist:
Why does my business need a unified communication solution? This question will help you identify which communication problem you are trying to solve. Or, if there isn’t a problem, this question will help you identify the top benefits you are aiming for. For instance, a company that has a fragmented workplace communication setup would likely aim for benefits such as simplicity, improved employee productivity, and a better employee experience.
What is my budget? Budgets are one of the foremost concerns of every business, so this question should remain top-of-mind. That being said, it may be impossible to know what types of price points are available without first examining the marketplace.
What features are necessary, advantageous, or unnecessary? Score out the benefits that would be nice to have in a solution. If, for instance, the business absolutely needs a video conferencing app, then that would be considered a must-have feature. Other features, such as collaboration or chat tools, may be nice to have. While some features included in a video conferencing app, such as on-demand video, may be completely unnecessary.
Questions such as these can all be used to quickly eliminate certain vendors and rank the remaining candidates. They can also help the decision makers communicate more effectively and come to an agreement more easily, since they will have established baseline criteria for their decisions.
Examples of Unified Communication Solutions
Here are a few of the many examples of companies that offer unified communication platforms:
- Qumu offers video communication solutions, including on-demand and live video
- OnCallPeople serves the healthcare industry by unifying communication, scheduling, and collaboration for healthcare-specific platforms, such as Epic and Cerner
- Grandstream offers solutions such as customized deployment options for VoIP
- Avaya is a one-stop communication platform that integrates the most important enterprise communication channels into a single app, such as chat, messaging, and calling
This short list barely scratches the surface of available providers and it is only meant to illustrate the types of unified communications companies that exist.
Also, it is important to note that not all companies use the term “unified communication solution” when describing their product, even if they offer similar functionality. WalkMe’s DAP, for instance, focuses on self-service customer and technical support, among other things, yet they also offer features such as one-to-many group messaging, chatbots, and other communication features that can help unify an organization’s communication system.