Seven Reasons to Consider Cloud Based Unified Communications Services

Seven Reasons to Consider Cloud Based Unified Communications Services

The productivity benefits of Unified Communications (UC) continue to be recognized as it moves into mainstream adoption. As organizations consider how best to deploy, there are a number of factors to consider.  This post focuses on the top reasons to consider Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).  UCaaS capabilities, also known as hosted or cloud-based UC, include the features found in premises-based IP telephony, as well as presence, integrated audio and web conferencing, mobility, collaboration, video solutions, and business application integration features all delivered as a service.

The benefits of UCaaS go above and beyond simply shifting costs from a capital expense to a predictable operating expense.  Here are our top 7 reasons to consider hosted UC solutions:

 1. Business Agility

Many IT organizations are stretched too thin and struggle to balance day-to-day operations with strategic projects.  One of the advantages of UCaaS is the speed of deployment.  Businesses have the flexibility to rollout UCaaS without the IT time and resource commitments associated with a legacy deployment model. Additionally, maintenance and support time is reduced as there is no longer the need to plan and implement system updates.  UCaaS offers quick updating through the cloud, so a business can choose to deploy new applications to all users or a single department as soon as they become available. This gives an IT department greater flexibility with their communications system, as upgrades can be rolled-out without any disruption to the system.

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2. Increased Efficiencies

Hosted UC services provide business customers with the communications they need without the associated capital costs of traditional on-premises systems and the costs associated with management and support. This increases both budgetary and IT resource efficiencies. With a lower budget barrier to entry, businesses can avoid the upfront capital outlay with UCaaS. Additionally, the predictable monthly expense allows businesses to plan more efficiently. A hosted UC solution can also increase IT efficiencies as there is no need to support and maintain a physical systems on-premises.  Eliminating a number of time consuming tasks for IT folks allows the organization to focus resources on core competencies and provide strategic value to grow the business.  

3. Increased Reliability

Hosted UC providers power their UCaaS offerings via the cloud. The best providers have secure and resilient data centers that are redundantly configured and geographically separated to ensure continued service in the event of catastrophic events and Service Level Agreements that provide uptime guarantees. Each organization’s data and user settings are backed up and mirrored in multiple locations, creating a disaster-proof backbone for your business communications.  Hosted UC providers also offer 24×7 monitoring, as well as the latest encryption and security protocols, so you can rest assured that your data is safe and secure. 

4. Disaster Recovery

In the event of an emergency or disaster, a UCaaS service provider can easily adapt to your changed situation without additional expenses on your part.

Most companies have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place to ensure that data and records vital to the operation of the business are duplicated or protected in off-site storage repositories.  UCaaS now provides the ability to ensure that business communications are also protected in the event of an emergency and can be incorporated into the overall Disaster Recovery Plan.

5. Greater Mobility

UCaaS is a strong enabler for the mobile worker, the BYOD explosion, and remote/home office worker.  It allows users access to all business communications features from any registered user device, including a smart phone, laptop, desktop and, of course, desk phone.  Organizations can enable users’ smart phones to transparently bridge calls from the company’s Wi-Fi networks to cellular networks and back again, keeping  “on-the-go” and “location agnostic” users connected.  Desktop client software can turn any networked PC into a virtual desktop phone and unified messaging terminal.  Users can travel with their extensions, use video conferencing, and access advanced call forwarding and web-browser dialing. IT organizations often struggle with managing application across numerous devices. With UCaaS, users download the device application from the app store and IT can easily manage their access.  An additional user benefit is that the experience is the same across all devices.

6. Increased Collaboration

True collaboration means anywhere, anytime access on any device. UCaaS gives your users access to applications that will let them instantly chat, set up on-the-fly conferences/meetings (both video and voice), share and exchange documents, and engage customers in real-time dialog. This will not only improve your workforce’s ability to be nimble, but will also improve customer satisfaction.

7. Better Customization

UCaaS combines enterprise-grade voice features with sophisticated Unified Communications and Collaboration applications and hosts them in the cloud. UCaaS gives you the flexibility to choose the deployment model and applications to fit your specific requirements. It also offers the flexibility to expand or contract as your business requirements change.

Additional Resources

To learn more about how Unified Communication as a Service can help you take advantage of the latest UC technology, easily connect mobile and remote users, and free up time for the other IT projects you need to get to, click below

NEC UCaaS Brochure

IT Convergence: Key Technology Trends that are driving Businesses towards converged IT infrastructure

IT Convergence: Key Technology Trends that are driving Businesses towards converged IT infrastructure

Modernizing IT infrastructure and becoming a Smarter Enterprise

The need for modernization among IT departments is a trend that is becoming increasingly relevant as IT departments are constantly faced with generational shifts in technology. The pressures of modern business require that IT departments close the gap between yesterday’s IT implementations and tomorrow’s demands.

Organizations that fail to modernize will rapidly lose their ability to respond to changing customer needs. They will weaken their competitive positions in the marketplace. And most importantly, the gap between where they are and need to be will only widen, leading to an expensive and uncertain future.

With most businesses facing incredibly tight or shrinking IT budgets, taking the appropriate steps toward modernization will seem expensive. With a modernized platform, however, organizations can add new capabilities and enhance overall employee performance while reducing their electronic footprint, leading to increased savings over time.

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What is a Smart Enterprise?

Smart enterprises leverage more converged IT technologies to optimize business practices, drive workforce engagement, and create a competitive edge. Merely leveraging a converged IT framework in your IT department means that you are on your way to operating a smarter, more efficient business. IT organizations can utilize four key areas of value and then assess their plan against:

1: Business Agility

Today, most workforces are mobile. As such, your applications and enterprise architecture should empower these mobile workforces. Creating a more adaptive and more programmable infrastructure will enable IT to be more responsive to your organization. Businesses in today’s world are always on, and as a result, you need to consider how your most critical services can adapt more naturally and automatically to the mobile and always-on workforce.

2: Cloud Delivery

Modern businesses need to be incredibly efficient. Cloud delivery provides businesses with the opportunity to flexibly deploy services and software more consistently across converged premises, cloud, or hybrid infrastructures. An enterprise IT business plan should consider how and when to deploy certain services in the cloud, when to operate them on-premises, and when to purchase them as-a-service.

3: Collaborative Communities

Today’s growing workforce demands rich Internet-style applications that are easy to access from anywhere and work consistently from any device.  Organizations who have built collaborative communities by providing powerful tools that deliver consistent and intuitive user experiences, converged applications, and distributed architectures are able to adapt dynamically to change and empower employees to their fullest extent.

4: Assured Services

Securing business information—protecting your company’s intellectual properties and digital assets—falls squarely on the shoulders of IT.  Add security with the need to assure business continuity, and you get a business that must consider greater infrastructure planning, high availability at multiple layers, a consistent and aligned security credential methodology, and which must validate automated archival methods.

Steps to Modernization

Competing in today’s business environment is about meeting challenges, making decisions, and innovating rapidly—using the best and most current technologies, tools and information.

Cloud services, mobile integration, real-time collaboration, and high availability are becoming essential ingredients for the smart and secure enterprise. They are part of a rapidly evolving technology foundation by means of which the best solution providers enable new approaches to how your businesses IT services are delivered and managed, allowing you new opportunities for growth.

Want to know more about IT Modernization?

Contact Connecticut Communications at 203.985.1000 to find out more.

NEC VoIP Unified Communications Free Lunch-N-Learn

NEC VoIP Unified Communications Free Lunch-N-Learn

On April 10th NEC and Connecticut Communications will be hosting a free lunch-n-learn in Shelton, Connecticut.  NEC will present their latest features in unified communications.

There are so many unified communications features available, come see first hand how these features will impact your business and how it will make you more efficient.  From mobile phone integration to desktop call control, NEC has something to offer you.

Lunch & Learn

You are invited to attend a Lunch & Lunch at NEC.  The NEC SV8100 VoIP system will make your office phone work like your smartphone, come see the exciting new features!

NEC Corporation of America4 Forest ParkwayShelton, CT 
Thursday, April 10
11:00am – 2:30pm
Lunch will be provided

Please RSVP to:  Scott@ctcom.com or 203.985.1001

Unified Communications as a Service Continues to Grow

Unified Communications as a Service Continues to Grow

The cloud-based communications services market is one of the fastest growing segments in the quickly expanding Unified Communications market.

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is essentially a delivery model for Unified Communications (UC). With UCaaS, employers have the opportunity to outsource communication and collaborative applications to a third-party provider for online delivery. It serves exactly the same purpose as traditional premises-based UC, combining multiple communications means and methods into a single, unified application.

Even with the advantages UCaaS offers, there remain some concerns about adopting these solutions. A recent Spiceworks survey of 267 IT pros in North America (11% of whom have already implemented UCaaS in their organization) points to two main concerns about hosted solutions: availability and performance.

By educating IT pros on UCaaS adoption trends and advantages, we hope to offer a closer look at the burgeoning UCaaS market.

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Innovators using UCaaS

Early technology adopters tend to buy and try out new hardware and software, and versions of existing programs sooner than most of their peers. According to Everett Rogers, author of the Diffusion of Innovations (DoI) theory and book, early adopters make roughly 14% of consumers.

And while early adopters are eager to explore new options like UCaaS, they are not the only ones worth watching. According to Rogers, there is a small minority of early adopters called innovators. Only one person out of 40 is of this type. Innovators are the people most likely to conceive and develop new methodologies and technologies, and who often end up running large IT corporations or founding new ones.

As the Spiceworks research shows, they are the ones adopting UCaaS.

IT Pros Responding to UCaaS

Among IT pros responding to the Spiceworks survey, 11% had adopted UCaaS. However, another 12% indicated they are planning to adopt it in the next year, which will more than double the number of people using UCaaS today.

This projected growth tracks consistently with the expectations of UCaaS market growth reported in 2013 by researchers at MarketsandMarkets. Their report on UCaaS projects that the global market will grow from $2.52 billion in 2013 to $7.62 billion by 2018, at an estimated CAGR of 24.8%.

Some suggest that developing confidence in hosted solutions in general is the impetus for the projected dramatic increase in adoption. Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research, has pointed out, “…more than 90% of companies now use software as a service (SaaS) applications.”

UCaaS’ potential to create uninterrupted communications across multiple devices and methods appeal to companies whose employees are increasingly seeking seamless 24/7 access to communications. According to Denise Culver, research analyst and author of a recent Heavy Reading Insider report on UCaaS, “As UCaaS continues to be viewed from the lens of a solution that cuts the landline cord and eradicates the need for a traditional PBX, it will be looked at as a business enabler, rather than a simple phone system.”

UCaaS Adoption Advantages

  • Up-to-date UC Technology and Applications: UCaaS applications can be updated easily and deployed company-wide as they become available via the cloud. UCaaS helps avoid technology obsolescence and the time and resources associated with large scale “technology refreshes.”
  • Cost Savings: SMBs that choose UCaaS for their communications solution avoid the capital outlay required to set up and maintain on-site hardware. Instead, that cost is shifted to operational expenditures via the third-party UCaaS provider. Businesses also only pay for the level of service they require.
  • Scalability: UCaaS models allow SMBs to quickly and easily increase their service levels as they add employees. This means that the SMBs pay for only what they need and they are not required to predict their potential needs in advance. This helps streamline the budget and makes the communications plans more scalable, as the business can easily modify as the workforce expands or even if it shrinks.
  • Higher Levels of Performance:The best hosted service providers have secure and resilient data centers that are redundantly configured and geographically separated to ensure continued service in the event of emergencies and Service Level Agreements that provide uptime guarantees. Each organization’s data and user settings are backed up and mirrored in multiple locations, creating a disaster-proof backbone for their business communications. This alleviates the potential of SMBs losing their communication capabilities due to a technical problem or severe weather events or other disasters. UCaaS also ensures their employees stay connected and productive even if they are unable to make it into the office through the off-site cloud-based tools that provide them access from any location and any device.

According to the Synergy Research Group, UCaaS subscribers will grow an average of 76 percent annually over the next five years. SMBs are expected to be a large part of that group.

NEC Unified Communications-as-a-Service

NEC Unified Communications-as-a-Service

UNIVERGE Cloud Services UCaaS completely changes the way you purchase communications and redefines the way you communicate – truly empowering your workforce to become more agile, more flexible and more productive.

With UNIVERGE Cloud Services UCaaS, NEC is taking our proven, enterprise-grade voice features and sophisticated unified communications (UC) and collaboration applications to the cloud to enable your business to be more agile and competitive in today’s marketplace. It provides you with the flexibility to choose the deployment model and applications to fit your specific requirements.

UNIVERGE Cloud Services UCaaS enables businesses to:

  • Choose from private, hybrid or public cloud deployment options
  • Implement or upgrade to converged, IP communications without the need to purchase, manage and maintain a network.
  • Scale IT resources to meet seasonal business demands, as needed.
  • Lower capital and overhead expenditures for communications assets.
  • Decrease the time needed to provision and deploy new applications and services.
  • Provide consistent, easy to access communications for users across multiple locations and/or geographic regions.
  • Easily support mobile and remote workers – keeping them connected and productive.
  • Provide a consistent user experience across multiple devices through an intuitive graphical user interface
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UNIVERGE Cloud Services UCaaS enables individuals to:

  • Increase efficiency and productivity through user-centric UC and collaboration applications.
  • Share and exchange information in real-time between customers and colleagues.
  • Communicate and collaborate from anywhere, anytime and from any device.
  • Tailor their communications to their specific needs plus have total control over how, when and where they choose to be reached.

Best-of Breed NEC Solutions

NEC is a global leader in the technology industry, with a core competency in IT and communications solutions and integration. We leverage enterprise-class NEC technologies and management expertise to deliver best-of-breed, unified communications from the cloud.

  • Powerful, feature-rich applications. NEC leverages powerful, software-based unified communications and collaboration solutions that provide enterprise-grade tools like IP telephony, voicemail, conferencing, voice/video/web collaboration, presence, instant messaging and more.
  • Unmatched reliability and security. NEC understands the mission-critical nature of communications and UNIVERGE Cloud Services UCaaS delivers continuous high availability and disaster recovery. It provides the latest encryption and security protocols available today. The platform which it is based on meets the stringent security requirements of the United States Department of Defense and has received Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) certification.
  • 24×7 monitoring and support. NEC offers 24×7 monitoring and support which ensures maximum up-time and frees up IT staff to focus on other projects.
  • Low up-front costs and one single monthly payment. Businesses simply choose the solution(s) that are best for them, pay one low, up-front cost and in a short amount of time, their business has fundamentally taken a leap forward for only a fraction of the upfront costs you would have incurred in a traditional Capital Expense (CAPEX) model. Because payment is handled by NEC Financial Services, even billing is simplified. One low monthly payment provides businesses with all of their communications needs – it’s that easy.

Click on the link below for a brochure on the unified communications service.

NEC Unified Communications-as-a-Service

Communication is the Key! Unified Communications Newsletter May 2014

Communication is the Key! Unified Communications Newsletter May 2014

Read about how communication is the key to business.  Whether it is email, text, phone calls, extra monitors, etc. read about how business people can be more efficient. 

Connecticut Communications helps business people become more efficient at work, from unified communications to extra montiors to email. 

Communication

There are many ways we communicate today; voice, text, email, instant message, snapchat, Facetime, Instagram, Facebook, video conference and others.  They all have one thing in common; the Internet.

In the 1970’s everyone had a secretary to help communicate for them.  The secretaries made phone calls, setup meetings, wrote letters, opened the mail, etc.  Today, each person is responsible for their own correspondence.

Business owners can take advantage of the internet to help their employees, and themselves, become more efficient.

Voice: Make/receive phone calls on home IP phone, laptop or cell phone.  You don’t have to take every call, but you have the option.

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Email: Send/receive email on cell phone or home PC.  Business voice messages are now playable .wav file attachments in your email.  Some customers expect a speedy response.

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Microsoft Office:  Connect securely to your internet cloud account to create/edit sales proposals from home or on the road.  Cloud files are always backed up and there for you.  Create/send meeting requests.  Create presentations.  Why not close the deal now?

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Multiple Monitors:  If you don’t have two or three monitors on your desk you are not as efficient as you can be.

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Wi-Fi:  Wireless access in the business and home allows devices to easily access the internet.  iPhones, iPads, PCs, etc. Cover your entire office with a secure wireless access.

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Video Surveillance:  Check in on your office or home from your PC or smart phone.  Saves time by not having to drive there. 

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Internet Speed:  Bandwidth comes in many forms; cable, T-1, fiber, Ethernet. 768k/1.5MB/50MB/100MB/higher.  How much speed you can get depends upon your location.

Ready to be more efficient?

Contact Connecticut Communications, we might be on a beach somewhere…you will never know.

203.985.1001

NEC Maintenance from Connecticut Communications

NEC Maintenance from Connecticut Communications

Connecticut Communications offers a premier Maintenance Contract to customers that have an NEC phone system, digital or VoIP.  A maintenance agreement offers real value to the customer.  It’s a hardware warranty, software warranty and piece of  mind all rolled up into one.

Here is a list of items in a Connecticut Communications Maintenance Agreement;

– Hardware warranty, all parts & labor

– NEC Software Assurance; As NEC releases new software, we upgrade your software

– Phone carrier liaison; Let us contact your phone carrier to resolve issues

– End user training; unlimited phone training for new and current employees

– Remote programming changes free

– Handset coil cord replacement free

–  Phone labels reprinted free

– battery backup replacement free

– voice cable repair/replacement free

– Lower labor rate for moves, adds & changes 

– Discount on new NEC equipment

– Free phone/email support

– Once per year preventative maintenance tech visit free

– And much more

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Let Connecticut Communications service your NEC system.  If you are currently serviced by BEI, Business Electronics, give us a call for a competitve quote and excellent service.

NEC Meeting Center – June Newsletter Connecticut Communications

NEC Meeting Center – June Newsletter Connecticut Communications

The NEC Meeting Center is a server blade that installs within an NEC phone system.

It provides the end user with high quality audio conferencing, web collaboration and mass notification.

The NEC Meeting Center is a part of NEC’s unified communications platform.  End users can setup their own audio conferencing easily.  Email invitations are sent out with PIN numbers.

End users can perform their own Webinars with NEC Meeting Center.  Participants can view the host’s PC and call into the audio conference to hear the presentation.

Mass notification is also a feature of the NEC Meeting Center.  Notify a group of people using text messages, phone calls and/or email messages.  Very easy to setup and use.

For more detailed description of the NEC Meeting Center, click on the link below or call Connecticut Communications.

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NEC Meeting Center

The NEC Meeting Center is a tool that allows you to exchange information easily between customers and colleagues while reducing the need for travel.

The NEC Meeting Center has multiple individual features that each employee can use. It has audio conferencing, web collaboration and mass notification.  You can use one or all three.

Audio Conferencing;  Host your own conference calls!  You can have a reservation-based conference or a reservation-less conference so it’s always available.  Customize each audio conference room per your requirements; Select PIN numbers for callers to use, turn recording on/off, select audio conference muted on/off, etc.

– Schedule recurring conferences via a Web Portal

– Send Email Invitations and use Outlook iCalendar invite.

– Display the loudest speaker – identifies caller who might be inadvertently injecting noise into the conference so you can mute that person.

– Record entire conference for easy playback via a PC.

Dial-out Conferencing;  The system will call a pre-determined group of people and place them into an audio conference.  The Dial-out conferencing provides flexibility to reach a group of people via voice, email, and SMS text and if necessary pull them into an impromptu audio conference.

Web Collaboration: By combining Web Collaboration with Audio Conferencing, you can further enhance the collaboration capabilities of your employees.  This feature most resembles a Webinar type feature where you can show your desktop to remote people and have a discussion on it.

– No software download required and no recurring costs.

– Designed to run across the internet with no IT involvement.

– Review projects, schematics, perform sales presentations.

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Mass Notification: Ensures your message gets out!  Alert people about an emergency or inform them about an event, this application is real easy to use and allows you to send messages to individuals quickly and efficiently.

Stop paying a 3rd party for conferencing and collaboration. Contact Connecticut Communications, or click on the link below, for more details.

NEC MEETING CENTER BROCHURE

203.985.1001

Is Your Business at Risk Running an Outdated Phone System?

Is Your Business at Risk Running an Outdated Phone System?

You know your PBX is way past its prime, and economic pressures have lead you to delay its upgrade or replacement.

But there comes a point in time when continuing to sweat your communications  assets no longer makes sense—from both a financial perspective and a business/productivity perspective. Retaining outdated equipment can essentially increase your IT costs and prevent your users from utilizing communications tools that help your business processes.

Phone systems are one of the assets that many companies sweat for too long, and, as a result, many of these organizations are sitting on archaic (or end-of-life) equipment that is no longer efficiently supporting their business while possibly putting it a risk.

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Yet for some, the prevailing practice is to continue operating the existing system well past its useful life and beyond the end-of-support.

We often hear the following reasons to avoid upgrading:

  • We don’t have the budget, or there is a higher priority budgetary request.
  • The lifespan on the last PBX was too short.
  • We’re afraid that if we upgrade tomorrow, something better will come out next week (a.k.a. the cycle of obsolescence).
  • We’re unclear on our unified communications plans and how our phone system should fit in with UC.
  • Newer phone systems are becoming too complex to use.
  • The buying cycle is too long, and we will have to get too many people involved who will all have different opinions.
  • We don’t know which approach to take—i.e. premises, hybrid, or cloud-based.

There’s a chance that the phones you think are supporting your business aren’t. While the value of your older technology may not have appeared to change—for example, the phones still work, and you can still make calls—the outdated system may be hurting your business.

We know the decision to move to a new telephony system is sometimes a difficult one to make. That’s why we’ve created the following list of 3 of the benefits of a modern unified communications system over an outdated phone system.

System Stabilization

If you are a business owner or decision maker, you have probably thought, “We save money keeping the old system. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Every day your business uses an analog, TDM, or older VoIP phone system that has reached end-of-life, you run the risk of having your phone system fail without access to support. If that happens, revenue will likely be lost as a result. How much? Well, you could lose what equates to hours, days, or even weeks of revenue—depending on the amount of time it takes to quickly repair or worst case find and install a new system.

And hurrying to find a new system isn’t ideal. If your system fails, it could mean you are forced to make a quick replacement decision. Companies that don’t have the time or don’t take the time to research properly before purchase usually discover they’ve spent too much money or are unhappy with their purchase after it is too late to change it. Taking the time to find the right IP Telephony solution or Unified Communications solution will improve your business processes and efficiencies without over-extending your budget.

Improved Operational Costs

Maintaining separate systems like directories, conferencing software, voicemail, and telephony is expensive and time consuming for IT departments to sustain. In fact, it can be so time consuming that the IT department spends the majority of their day keeping these systems functional—time that can be better spent on more strategic IT projects.

The older the system, the higher the operational cost is when you don’t upgrade. Some of the costs businesses accrue using older systems include: 

  • Proprietary hardware at each location (equipment, phones, PBX)
  • Installation
  • Licensing
  • Maintenance, repairs and upgrades
  • Additional services
    • Fax
    • Business SMS
    • HD video meetings
    • Audio conferencing

When you factor the lost IT time spent maintaining each separate communications system  with the opportunity cost of not having the advanced applications and features that modern unified communications provides, you end up with a total cost that is just too high for most businesses to ignore.

Competitive Advantage

Have you stopped to think about whether your competitors are taking advantage of modern communications software? If they are and you’re not, then chances are they are able to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. Working smarter gives them an edge by increasing their productivity and creating a competitive advantage.

Your competitors that are working with updated communications systems, most likely have these advanced features at their disposal:

  • Audio/video/web collaboration, white boarding and document sharing
  • Support for the mobile workforce with a consistent user experience across smartphones and tablets
  • UC clients that provide status, presence, call history
  • Integrated vertical applications through standards and open services

While the cost of upgrading may seem high, the advanced applications and features associated with modern communications systems will help re-gain lost competitive edge and offer companies an opportunity to better serve their customers. 

Unified communications can help businesses regain competitive advantage in two ways.

First, a new system can help you increase your revenue by providing your business with the communications applications needed to be more productive and efficient. You could gain better advantages and increased competitive edge by choosing a modern solution with a lower total cost of ownership and features that enable collaboration across your business, improving the speed of your communications.

Secondly, UC provides communications software that makes enterprise-level communications applications available on an ad-hoc basis. This either gives you access to applications that you might not have previously been able to budget for, or, saves your organization money as you no longer have to pay the fees required to utilize multiple services. Replacing hosted web, audio or video conferencing services is a perfect example. The accrued savings can boost the return on your unified communications investment, and expand your competitive edge through re-investment into other IT projects that help your business grow.

Increased Productivity

If you fear that your new technology will become obsolescent and use that as an excuse to avoid upgrading, you shouldn’t.  Look for vendors that offer software assurances and extended warranties for hardware that will provide your business with more security and less risk in the long run.

With a modern communications solution, you ensure that your system has the flexibility to handle rapid growth, giving you the ability to provide support to your increasingly mobile and distributed workforce. Your IT team will re-gain some of their time, allowing them to focus on other strategic IT initiatives. And, your employees will re-coup benefits that improve the speed of communication from access to applications that positively impact your daily business—whether it’s through more efficient collaboration with colleagues, or improving customer response times.

Options Available to Your Business

Ultimately there is a high cost, in terms of inefficiencies and operational cost, when you continue to operate an outdated or end-of-life phone system.

Some organizations struggle with selecting the best model (premises, hybrid, or cloud-based) to meet long-term communication needs. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the advantages of each option. Ultimately you’ll look for the platform and vendor that has the flexibility to customize the right solution to meet your specific needs. 

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5 Things Millennials will Love about Unified Communications

5 Things Millennials will Love about Unified Communications

Supporting Millennials in the Enterprise becomes easier with Unified Communications Technology.

Everywhere you look these days there’s an article about millennials—the net generation, generation next, echo boomers. I am a millennial. So I have some insight into the millennial/tech conversation.

Yes, it is true that we are inherently good with technology.  That I won’t argue. But we are still very new to the enterprise—and simultaneously, enterprise lingo. Throw a term like “unified communications” at a millennial, and many of my peers will draw a blank.

Despite that little flaw, we are becoming an increasingly significant factor to consider when defining business IT needs. At over 79 million strong in the US, we currently outnumber the baby boomer generation by three million people.  By 2015, we will comprise over half of the labor market globally.

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Unified communications offers all of the tools that millennials demand in the workplace. But like me, they may not know that. Because even though we are technologically savvy, the consumer market does not have or use a term like Unified Communications. Millennials have just not had a chance to become familiar with it.

I did a lot of reading about UC when I first heard the phrase. And I learned a lot of technically specific IT information. But I didn’t really “get” UC until I attended a training/demo. The training showed me just how quintessential UC is to my generation. It includes all the features that we like to have on hand as we work—all the tools we already use.

From my training, I’ve developed a list of the Top 5 Features Millennials will Love about UC.

Rich Presence

What it is: Rich presence allows users to locate and identify another user’s availability and contact them on their preferred device.

Why it matters: Millennials like efficiency. We’ve had Rich Presence—at least in the form of availability—as a feature of our various instant messaging systems for over a decade. To us, it’s second nature to mark ourselves as “Away” or “Out to Lunch” on an Instant Messaging platform. By that rationale, it’s also second nature for us to want to know someone else’s availability before we ever pick up the phone. It is fantastic that UC solutions offer presence features that are capable of showing when co-workers are “On the Phone,” or, “In a Meeting;” as well as if they are in the office or mobile. Rich Presence allows more efficient conversations, and enhances voice and messaging applications to better suit millennials’—and everyone else’s—mobility needs.

Instant Messaging/Chat

What it is: Instant Messaging/Chat technology provides a communications alternative to traditional telephone calls or video conferences that is less-intrusive and enables quick exchange of information.

Why it matters: Millennials are chatty. And while we’re not necessarily more communicative than our Gen X and Baby Boomer peers, the fact is that Millennials communicate differently. Making a phone call is not always our first instinct (admittedly there are those of us who find phone calls to be daunting). So, most millennials are less likely to use a traditional handset—or a phone call in general—until a deeper level of conversation is warranted. When this is the case, millennials will schedule these conversations ahead of time if it’s possible. Why? Because we’ve grown up using communications technology, and chatting digitally via IM or Text message is instinctive to us. So if we have a question or request that can be answered or discussed quickly, you can bet an instant message of some kind is going to be our preferred method.

Soft Phone

What it is: Soft phone functionality allows employees to use their computers to send/receive calls, perform desktop video conferencing, and use advanced call forwarding and web-browser dialing.

Why it matters: Millennials love VoIP technology. Check any one of their phones and you’ll find at least one favorite consumer VoIP application. We use them all the time to chat and videoconference with each other. In fact, consumer softphones are so popular with millennials, that we use them personally, and, as a result, softphone applications are becoming more popular and prevalent with SMBs who are trying to attract millennial innovators—i.e. startups, small businesses, marketing and advertising verticals, etc. When you factor in the ever-growing mobility trend, you begin to understand and see that the need for these tools in the enterprise office is not specific to millennial workers alone.

Smart Directories

What it is: Online Smart Directories provide a desktop view of any person or extension in the enterprise, and that person’s availability via a simple search feature.

Why it matters: Millennials have grown up “searching at the speed of Google.” We are instinctive researchers, and our instincts tell us that somewhere online we’ll find the wisdom we seek. So it is incredibly impressive when our UC client can look up any person and any extension in the enterprise via a simple search feature. In fact, this is one of the pleasantly surprising benefits to using enterprise-level UC over a consumer-based option, and something that most millennials may not inherently expect.  

Hard Phone

What it is: The device that a user holds to the ear to hear the audio sound through the receiver.

Why it matters: Contrary to popular opinion, there are millennials who are perfectly comfortable picking up the desk phone, and I believe it is inaccurate to say that there is a straight refusal on millennials’ part to use them. Hard phones are great when sitting at a desk working, so long as they are easy to use and have advanced features that allow us to tailor the phone experience to meet our individual needs. Older handset models can be difficult to learn how to use with 100 page handbooks and overtly complicated keypad functions. Unified Communications enabled phones are usually linked to a user’s PC through a UC desktop client, making it intuitively easy for millennials to set-up and access advanced calling features with a few mouse clicks. This client is usually integrated with the enterprise’s messaging and email platforms, making it identifiable to the mobile experiences we’ve come to know. 

Final Thoughts

For my generation, work is something we do and not somewhere we must go. So we need tools that enable mobility. That being said, we are not opposed to traditional forms of communication. We still use email. We still make phone calls. We will continue to do so. We’re not going to stop using them just because we get a new tool that has an instant messaging feature.

Most importantly, we understand there is a need to respect others’ communications styles. So if our co-workers prefer phone calls to IMs, we can make that adjustment. In many cases, successful adoption of new communications styles requires management of generational expectations, not just software training.

So, all of this is to say that Unified Communications can unify the multi-gen workforce that most businesses have, and should more than satisfy millennials’ needs through the UC system’s features.

Are you excited to learn more about millennials and Unified Communications?

Check out the white paper: Empowering the Millennial Work Style with Unified Communications