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 Outdated phone systems that use legacy technologies are officially obsolete, and continuing to use them can actually inhibit a business’s ability to grow and respond to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.

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The telecom, IT, and cloud industries evolve quickly, and it can be difficult to keep up with the rapid pace of change. Evaluate your business’s technology needs now to start 2017 off on the right foot.

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UCaaS: Making Small Businesses Big

UCaaSSmall and medium businesses (SMBs) are the backbone of a successful economy. Big starts from small: Apple that took off in a garage; eBay was founded in a living room; FaceBook was conceived in a dorm room.

In the present business environment, small can also be big. SMB owners are wearing more hats more than ever in order to keep pace with bigger enterprises. They are realizing that concerns related to sales, marketing, finance, human resources, and more can be addressed by streamlining processes through effective communications. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) can help meet these challenges at less cost than an in-house solution.

The Benefits

With the emerging mobility trends, SMBs are increasingly shifting to UCaaS to meet the changing demands of remote working through enhanced communication and collaboration tools. Reduced costs and business continuity are the main drivers to a move to a UCaaS model, along with a host of other benefits.

Reduced Costs UCaaS enables SMBs to minimize the cost of ownership and offload significant capital expenditures to the provider with no major infrastructure to build. Work hours are saved by not having to maintain, troubleshoot, and replace old equipment. Hosted UC provides a predictable monthly operating expense with monthly billing that can include collaboration tools like audio and video conferencing and long distance services.

Business ContinuityBusiness disruptions happen not only during earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards, or wild fires, but also when isolated electrical fires occur, when major pipelines leak, or when IT glitches crop up. Most hosted UC services include a disaster recovery and business continuity plan that enables employees with Internet access to use the network’s UC tools to continue working and keep the business up and running.

Simplicity and Speed of Deployment Premise-based UC is often complex, with several servers and UC applications needed to be set up by specialized IT professionals. A hosted UC solution can be set up quickly, with adds, changes, and moves accomplished in minutes. Typical IT management and maintenance tasks, including automatic updates of the latest versions, are handled by the UC provider.

Increased Efficiency and Productivity Presence is an effective tool for SMBs that lends visibility into how employees are working and if processes are aligned with established business objectives. This translates to improved efficiency, increased productivity, and more robust ROI.

The Challenges

UCaaS is not without challenges, but businesses can have a successful UC experience if these challenges are addressed.

LAN RequirementsThe local area network (LAN) is host to routers, switches, and firewalls. These critical components need to be upgraded, adjusted, and configured to ensure quality of service and streamline deployment and management.

Network Bandwidth and Redundancy Concerns While voice calls, messaging, and emails are the more frequently used components of a UC network, video conferencing eats up significantly more bandwidth. UC planners need to assess their bandwidth requirements as well as plan for a backup bandwidth provider in case the primary system goes down or becomes congested.

Wiring and Cabling – Wiring and cabling may seem like minor needs, but they help ensure the desired quality of service. Cat5+ cabling works best in a VoIP environment, while Wi-Fi has limited uses. UC planners may also consider a dual drop switching system where the data network has its own port, with the phones having their own port.

Integration of Special Features – Many companies want to retain special digital and analog phone services that have been part of their corporate culture. These include paging systems, music on a call on hold, automated door systems activated via phone, advertising, messaging, and many others. Integrating and testing the services are important tasks during the planning phase.

The benefits of UCaaS are clear, but SMBs moving toward a hosted solution need to address the challenges for a successful deployment. If you’re an SMB looking to UCaaS to make your business big, contact us at ROI Networks for a no obligation UC planning session.

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.

A Growing Number of Businesses Are Discovering the Benefits of UCaaS

July 4Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is a cloud-based strategy for merging multiple telecom and communication software applications in a centralized and easily accessible virtual space. In 2014, the global UCaaS market was valued at $13.1 billion, and that figure is expected to nearly double by 2019.

A growing number of businesses are discovering the many benefits of UCaaS platforms. They deliver competitive advantages by allowing employees to instantly communicate with clients and team members using virtually any mode and any connected device at any time. Here’s a look at some of the other key aspects of its value proposition:

  • Better business continuity. Business continuity and disaster planning are essential to any enterprise strategy. With UCaaS, communication downtime is virtually eliminated in the event of an emergency or unforeseen disaster, allowing team members to remain productive and responsive in the aftermath of a service disruption.
  • Improved employee mobility. Growing numbers of workers are choosing to telecommute part or all of the time, and UCaaS provides them with a comprehensive communication and productivity toolbox. Third-party applications can quickly and easily be integrated into a UCaaS platform, giving businesses and their employees optimal flexibility.
  • Effective collaboration tools. Collaboration is the lifeblood of any enterprise, and the rise of more mobile workplaces means that businesses need dynamic and innovative solutions. UCaaS supports collaboration over any distance with its complete suite of communication and productivity tools, which can reduce or even eliminate the need for expensive business travel.
  • Ease of deployment. Compared to conventional telephone systems, UCaaS is easier to install and integrate. It greatly reduces physical resource requirements and is ideal for new companies that are looking to get up and running quickly with minimal expenditures.
  • Simplified scalability. UCaaS services can be scaled up or down quickly, and users only pay for the services they actively use. Pre-packaged solutions that require enterprises to sign up for services they may not actually need are not part of the prevailing sales model.

Best of all, UCaaS services can significantly cut costs while offering convenient user features like one-number dialing. Choosing a best-in-class service model is essential to realizing its full benefits, so be sure to carefully compare the relative benefits and advantages offered by competing providers.

If you would like to learn more about ROI Networks’ dynamic suite of UCaaS and enterprise collaboration tools, contact us today.

How Business Apps and UCaaS Are a Powerful Partnership

ROI June blog 3Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a hot topic in the IT sector. As leaders search for areas that can be streamlined and unified, this tool is starting to answer those needs on a routine basis. The benefits of integrating a UCaaS solution with the company’s existing software are proving to be substantial. Following are a few integration points to consider.

CRM Tools

Customer relationship management (CRM) is the most common program to benefit from a UCaaS implementation. The combination of the two systems allows company representatives to be more efficient, reduces hold and call handling times, and helps avoid duplicate data entry. Records of each call are noted in the CRM system automatically and if a customer must be transferred, call information can be conveyed without requiring a lengthy handoff between departments. Customers are more satisfied with the time needed to fulfill their requests and sales or support reps enjoy the improved process of making or taking calls.

Popular Cloud Apps

Another point of integration with UCaaS tools is the cloud software already in use by billions of consumers and companies. Skype, Google Apps, web meeting software, email programs, and more can provide more powerful functionality when the two packages are combined.

Making calls, scheduling meetings, sending emails, or creating marketing campaigns can be done with fewer steps and less effort. As a result, workplace productivity is improved and efficiency increases. Recovering such significant amounts of time in a work day could have powerful downstream effects as other strategic company initiatives have more resources available.

Mobile Devices

Over the past several years, the mobile world has made major leaps forward. Businesses are increasingly leveraging new mobile technologies to transform work culture and improve accessibility. UCaaS is a natural fit with a company’s mobile strategy as it aids with call handling, video and web conferencing, messaging, and sharing of information.

Workers are more connected to customers, leaders, and one another. Collaboration is instant, efficient, and effective. The wait for information to be conveyed is minimal or nonexistent. The outcome is clear — delivering on organizational goals can occur more rapidly than ever before thanks to the compound effects of using these complementary tools.

UC tools are a necessity in the technological workplace of today and the UCaaS method of delivery is a cost-efficient way to acquire these robust tool kits. Integration with other business software amplifies the efficacy of both products and may enable the company to accomplish bigger and better goals as a result.

For more information regarding UCaaS, contact ROI Networks today.

Why the Partnership Between Healthcare and UCaaS Is Revolutionizing the Industry

shutterstock_207428872smUnified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is transforming networks into highly functioning, collaborative, cost-saving machines. One of the many industries in which a UCaaS arrangement is extraordinarily effective is healthcare. The need for wellness and medical service is a permanent and growing condition around the world, presenting a nearly unlimited market for potential users of UCaaS. Here’s how this impressive tool is reshaping healthcare.

Improving Collaboration

In nearly all organizations, communication is a sore point among teams. In healthcare, failing to communicate effectively can be a life or death matter. Using UC allows medical professionals to provide a complete patient picture and necessary information in one place. The entire team will better connect with each other and brainstorm on complex cases as if everyone was in the same room. Conveying messages is easy, and the information will get to the intended audience much more promptly.

Feature-Rich System Structure

Healthcare teams need to be able to contact one another in a variety of ways. Text, video conferencing, call forwarding, and business continuity are all critically important in ensuring prompt accessibility to doctors and nurses. With UCaaS, important team members will never miss a crucial call again, and patients will be protected against weather or local catastrophes that may cause power outages and lead to communications failure.

Better Patient Care

Consider how long it takes to transfer vital patient records the old way (by courier or mail). Today’s healthcare teams want immediate access to all of a patient’s history so that proper, patient-specific care can be administered. UCaaS allows easy electronic engagement with a patient’s records, even across different hospital systems or physician practices. In addition, specialists can be accessed via video to obtain recommendations for treatment or other valuable expertise. The information is able to reach the care team’s mobile devices quickly so they can analyze the details on the move.

Saving Money

A fast-rising trend in today’s business world is to use services like security, software, data management, and analytics in the cloud for accessibility and reduced expense. UC is no exception to this trend as it can easily replace costly and bulky on-premise solutions. The burden of hardware acquisition and maintenance is handled by the vendor. Valuable features can be enjoyed for very little added cost while providing time-saving and productivity-enhancing benefits. Ultimately overhead is decreased and patient care becomes less expensive. This is a gain for both healthcare providers and the patients they serve.

UCaaS has found a strong market in the corporate sector due to its usefulness and high return on investment. The healthcare industry is a natural extension of this technology’s applicability as it saves money, boosts team cohesion and collaboration, and, consequently, improves patient care. This cutting edge tool provides considerable financial benefits and helps save lives.

ROI Networks Is Ready to Rock and Roll at #CPExpo Las Vegas

ROI Networks Vegas
2015 was a big year for ROI Networks: We released our much-anticipated ROIngage product, an advanced, first-of-its-kind cloud offering. Not to mention, we made the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies and were honored by CIOReview as one of the 20 Most Promising Avaya Solution Providers.

There’s no better way to celebrate it all than by heading to “The King” of industry events: Channel Partners!

The show is about to get “All Shook Up” in Las Vegas, and we’d love to meet with you at the event. Please reach out to cnoblitt@roinetworks.com to set up time with the ROI team.