5 Unified Communications Features Every Business Should Have

Unified CommunicationsUnified communications (UC) has revolutionized telephony systems for enterprises. Outdated phone systems that use legacy technologies are officially obsolete, and continuing to use them can actually inhibit a business’s ability to grow and respond to the dynamic needs of its customers and clients.

Companies that are ready to make the switch to UC solutions should be sure to look for these five key features:

On-the-Go Accessibility

Today’s world is a dynamic and mobile place, and the most efficient and effective UC systems offer access to users wherever and whenever there’s an Internet connection available. Mobility features allow employees and customer service representatives to be productive and available beyond their desks, and that’s an increasingly valuable feature as traditional ways of doing business continue to change.
Enhanced Efficiency and Productivity

UC solutions allow employees to customize their outbound and inbound call protocols in ways that are far more flexible than the possibilities offered by legacy systems and operator-assisted networks. Some of these possibilities include:

  • Applications that offer real-time inbound and outbound call control
  • Teleconferencing capabilities
  • Customized hold and priority sequencing features

These tools can all be configured to prioritize customer service objectives while giving employees creative solutions with pinpoint control.

Easy Compatibility

Compatibility was a major issue in the early days of UC, with devices from different manufacturers sometimes posing problems when connected to a single network. However, compatibility has come a long way in the past few years, and systems that support devices from various manufacturers can often save businesses a significant amount of money.

Even better, enhanced compatibility enables organizations to pick and choose the devices that best meet their specific needs without needing to worry about which manufacturer produces it. This gives the system superior flexibility and a wider range of performance capabilities.
Remote Support

The nature of the office is changing. People are telecommuting in growing numbers, and it’s common for even smaller enterprises to maintain staff at multiple locations. UC systems ensure that all employees, no matter where they’re working, have access to the same suite of performance and productivity features.
Value for Investment

A lot of businesses are tempted by UC systems with low up-front costs, but it’s important to carefully calculate how much value the system will deliver in the long term relative to its price. Businesses should be particularly aware of add-on features and hidden costs. In most cases, it’s better to invest a little more up front in exchange for cost certainty and predictability going forward.

ROI Networks offers a complete range of advanced UC solutions, loaded with the essential features businesses need to stay competitive in a dynamic and constantly changing environment. Please contact us today to learn more about our wide range of available UC products and service packages.

Using UC in a Contact Center: Two Key Factors to Consider

August Blog # 3 (1)Unified communications (UC) provides a perfect solution to the everyday needs of contact center agents, who often juggle many different types of communications while serving customers. Considering that many call centers deal with incoming requests from dissatisfied customers, the need for an efficient and high-performing UC system is amplified.

By correctly identifying core capability needs and potential challenges, the system will be more robust and more reliable, helping agents provide superior customer service. With that in mind, there are two key factors to consider when planning a contact center UC strategy: integration and channel usage.

Integrating Contact Center UC Systems with Other Parts of the Business

Some contact centers use service platforms that run separately from other key business systems, while others are directly integrated. Currently, separate platforms are the norm in call centers, since agents have communications needs that are far more complex than those of most other staff members. However, as cloud computing continues to penetrate deeper and deeper into prevailing enterprise models, integration considerations become increasingly necessary.

Think of the UC solution as a means of linking contact center communication platforms with the core capabilities used by the rest of the business. Larger-scale operations — particularly those that maintain multiple call centers across broad geographic areas — have more complex needs in this regard. In such cases, it’s even more important to ensure that contact center agents have all the tools they need at their fingertips, at all times.

Which Modes of Communication Are the Contact Center Agents Using?

In a typical customer service center, agents are simultaneously using multiple modes of communication to handle incoming requests. Though telephone services still remain at the core of the contemporary contact center, email, social media, and other Internet-based communication systems are becoming increasingly intertwined with CMS software.

Take stock of the channels agents are using, and make sure they are all integrated into the UC strategy. It’s also a good idea to speak to agents to see if there are any capabilities that don’t currently exist that would help them do a better job of serving customers going forward.

The advice and direction of an experienced and knowledgeable channel partner or telecom agent can be a big help to businesses of all sizes looking to leverage the power of UC to improve customer service. To learn more about the emerging range of dynamic customer service center solutions, please contact the experts at ROI Networks.

3 Key Drivers of Increased UCaaS Adoption Rates

shutterstock_154150490Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) has changed the rules of the presence technology and enterprise messaging game for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). By packaging essential services such as instant messaging, voice messaging, telephony, and video conferencing using a unified cloud-based delivery and management model, UCaaS provides a cost-effective, flexible, and scalable alternative to traditional telecom solutions.

SMBs have responded in kind by adopting UCaaS services in record numbers. By understanding the key drivers of this trend, businesses can more easily evaluate the potential benefits of adopting UCaaS services themselves.

UCaaS Driver #1: The Cloud Is Better than Ever

When the cloud first emerged as a viable service delivery model, there were legitimate concerns about its reliability and scalability. Next-generation models have enacted major improvements in these areas, with Internet giants like Google and Amazon embracing the cloud with open arms. This has rightly given a growing number of SMBs the confidence to adopt UCaaS and other cloud-based computing models.

UCaaS Driver #2: Integration Improvements Boost Usability

Essential tech tools like customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software moved into the cloud some time ago, and integration platforms are quickly catching up. This is allowing UCaaS to partner with other key cloud-based resources to create interactive multi-modal platforms with comprehensive capabilities.

A growing number of mainstream software suites are also moving into the cloud — Google Drive and Office 365 are prime examples. Cloud-based services are quickly becoming the new norm, making it even easier for businesses to adopt and deploy them to reduce costs, boost internal efficiency, and create better, more easily managed professional and commercial relationships.

UCaaS Driver #3: The Future

Even though cloud-based services like UCaaS have come a long way in the past few years, it’s important to remember that these technologies are still in their relative infancy. Improvements are expected to continue in the near future, with tech industry experts and IT pundits predicting that UCaaS and other cloud-based technologies will effectively become embedded not only in the business world, but throughout society in general.

Further, millennials — the first generation that grew up with ubiquitous Internet technology — are now joining the workforce in large numbers. Their high rates of technological literacy will be a major asset to businesses using traditional models as they seek to transition to cloud-based platforms.

Six Ways Unified Communications and the Cloud Are Benefiting Businesses

shutterstock_190201718Unified communications (UC) has been making serious headway in the business world for several years now, and current trends continue to show increasing adoption rates across many different industries. UC platforms offer the powerful ability to synchronize real-time modes of communication such as voice calling and video conferencing with static ones like email and traditional voicemail. More recently, UC technologies have been paired with cloud computing capabilities to further enhance their power, scope, and reach.

Cloud-based UC models are known as unified communications as a service, or UCaaS. These models offer advanced integration of system tools and functions, creating a single platform for the operation and management of all available services. UCaaS models offer businesses six key benefits.

1. Enhanced Usability

UCaaS models deliver their capabilities across a single system, which eliminates the need for businesses to invest in and train employees on the use of multiple platforms. Moreover, the vast majority of UCaaS systems support ease of use with readily available training resources, tech support, and help desk staff.

2. Easier Management

In addition to ease of use, UCaaS systems offer outstanding ease of management. Day-to-day management and upkeep tasks are not the responsibility of the business itself, but rather of the service provider. UCaaS technologies are delivered using subscription models, meaning that the end provider handles all the technical details on behalf of its customers.

3. Scalable Service Models

Cloud technologies are renowned for their outstanding scalability. It’s easy to ramp up the number of users on the system, even if business growth requires the addition of many new users within a short time frame. Infrastructure needs are also dramatically reduced, making it far easier to scale up or down.

4. Reduction of Downtime

System connectivity and power issues comprise the two biggest causes of system downtime. UCaaS models eliminate these problems because they rely on Tier 3 and Tier 4 data centers with advanced system management capabilities.

5. Enhanced Flexibility

Before UCaaS technologies came along, businesses were usually forced to resort to expensive outside help if they wanted to integrate custom features. Now, such features can be added quickly and easily to service packages, which offer unsurpassed flexibility in and of themselves. UCaaS service models also support the bring your own device (BYOD) trend that’s become so popular in the past few years.

6. Reduced Costs

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, UCaaS service models are designed to sharply reduce upfront costs and deliver reliable, predictable service at affordable, fixed monthly rates. These service models support budget planning initiatives and provide powerful capabilities that enhance efficiency and productivity. Further, UCaaS reduces or eliminates the need for expensive hardware as well as the unpredictable costs of non-cloud-based service plans.

Given these many benefits, UCaaS certainly merits careful consideration by any business seeking superior integration of its communication platforms.

[Infographic] Cloud Makes UC Business Benefits Soar

Combining the cloud with any technology makes something much more powerful. See how cloud takes Unified Communications to new heights in the cloud and provides businesses with unprecedented opportunities to grow and collaborate.


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Achieving Maximum ROI Through Unified Communications

shutterstock_216498328Any large project in an organization will require comprehensive analysis before it will be approved, and the transition to Unified Communications (UC) is no exception. Fortunately, a strong return on investment is nearly guaranteed with a UC transition. Predicting the financial benefit is an easy prospect if pre-project analysis encompasses the following points.

Decreased Expenses

Telephony and other traditional communications methods are expensive to own and maintain. Costly hardware is required to run phones and computer connections. This is where a solid UC program is a big win, since nearly everything can be operated via internet connection.

Other areas where a business will enjoy decreased costs due to a shift to UC are travel, training, wireless phone bills, shipping, and human resource expenses. Thanks to UC and the advent of video conferencing, employee travel can become a thing of the past. Wireless bills are reduced since most calls will be made over Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Add in encrypted email and secure messaging, and gone is the need to overnight packages of sensitive data. With many UC plans, a setup fee and a recurring monthly maintenance fee are the only charges that will be incurred.

Focus on Quality and Fit

While it may sound rational to purchase the maximum bandwidth and load capacity available from a UC provider, the more important targets should be outstanding call quality and appropriate service bundling. First and foremost, find a UC supplier that can provide clear, stable call quality. Bandwidth can generally be expanded when required, but it can be very challenging to improve inferior call quality.

In addition, look for a provider that allows sensible bundling of services. Only select those that the organization must have to avoid spending more than necessary. Ask how adding on services is performed after initial setup to ensure that it is an easy process that won’t break the bank. Both internal and external collaboration requirements should be considered when purchasing any UC solution.

Make Sensible Decisions

UC is a powerful tool, but the attractiveness of consolidation sometimes muddies the waters. Don’t eliminate effective solutions that are already in place just because something new and shiny is available. The current solution may be the best fit and should not be discarded unless the UC solution is better suited to meet company objectives. A good UC solution is one that makes operations more efficient and can seamlessly interface with other essential pieces of the business.

Analyzing the return on investment that a shift to UC will provide should be done with both finances and operational improvement in mind. Given the strengths of this outstanding solution, everyone from CIOs to technology users will see the potential benefits of transitioning. Choose a strong UC partner and begin reaping the rewards of streamlined processes and reduced expenses.

Get the Most Out of Unified Communications

shutterstock_274076369Companies that adopt unified communications (UC) solutions know they will enjoy many benefits, but some businesses end up missing the mark because they haven’t created a communication-enabled business process (CEBP). One way to make the most of UC in combination with an advanced telephony program is through a CEBP, which optimizes business processes through automation and technology.

Identifying Opportunities

With so many different operational processes that occur within a company, identifying those that could be improved through automation may be a challenge. One way to easily pick out potentials is through key performance indicators (KPIs). Software and KPIs are a natural symbiosis, since ranges can be set and a variety of data points monitored.

Exceptions to ranges should be set to send alerts to relevant personnel. These alerts should trigger an action plan to result in operational improvement. Alerts are real-time, which facilitates quick correction of KPIs that have deviated from acceptable standards. Call center sales are a great example of where CEBP makes UC a more powerful business tool.

Monitor and React

UC in conjunction with a solid CEBP also will help management professionals modify best practices or company policy if needed. Following a KPI alert, a quick response to employee needs engenders good will, retains competition, and minimizes loss of productivity. In the end, too, customers ultimately receive better service, which makes a positive impact on the business’s bottom line.

A Smart Approach to Change

Any time that a best practice, policy, or other critical company detail has been changed, these changes must be communicated in an effective and useful manner. UC in combination with CEBP help illustrate the need for the change in a factual manner, which minimizes employee resistance to change. Showing the positive results of the changes will strengthen confidence in management’s decision-making process and aid in future events.

Video conferencing, telephone conferencing, and IM are all essential parts of a UC solution. Information can be conveyed through these channels to promote quicker adoption of changes to policy. The varying methods of communication allow for multiple approaches to educating employees; the message then can be absorbed by all types of learners.

An organization should seek to reap all of the benefits a UC strategy. Using additional tools like CEBP will amplify the effectiveness of UC and afford the company greater success and competitiveness as a result.

CIOReview Selects ROI Networks for 20 Most Promising Avaya Solution Providers 2015

Avaya Solution Providers 2015FREMONT, CA—July 8, 2015  CIOReview has chosen ROI Networks for its 20 Most Promising Avaya Solution Providers 2015. The positioning is based on ROI Networks’ ability to simplify the deployment, support, and management of Avaya solutions through its purpose-built infrastructure—ROI vPack.

The annual list of companies is selected by a panel of experts and members of CIOReview’s editorial board to recognize and promote technology entrepreneurship.

“ROI Networks has been on our radar for some time for stirring a revolution in the Avaya space, and we are happy to showcase them this year due to their continuing excellence in delivering top-notch Avaya solutions,” said Jeevan George, Managing Editor, CIOReview. “ROI Networks’ solutions continued to break new ground within the past year, benefiting its customers around the globe, and we’re excited to have them featured on our top companies list.”

“ROI Networks is honored to be recognized by CIOReview’s panel of experts and thought leaders,” said Jeff Hiebert, CEO, ROI Networks.

Jeff Hiebert - Todd StiresAbout
ROI Networks

ROI Networks is a systems integrator focused on the delivery of business collaboration solutions which enable customers to optimize enterprise communication regardless of network or device utilized for each interaction. These solutions include the underlying network infrastructure, carrier services, security, unified communications, audio, video and web conferencing and contact center components.

About CIOReview

CIOReview constantly endeavors to identify “The Best” in a variety of areas important to tech business. Through nominations and consultations with industry leaders, our editors choose the best in different domains. Avaya Special Edition is an annual listing of 20 Most Promising Avaya Solution Providers in the U.S.