Five Essential Benefits Driving UC Adoption by SMBs
Five essential benefits driving UC adoption by SMBs Companies of all sizes are increasingly being challenged to beat tight operational schedules and meet customer demands — all while walking that tightrope of diminishing IT budgets and limited staffing resources. As much as technology has advanced in the last few decades, there are still only 24 hours in a day. That’s where Unified Communications (UC) comes into play.
What isUnified Communications? Unified Communications (UC) allows an organization to seamlessly integrate, or unify, its typical business processes with both real-time communications (such as instant messaging/ chat, presence information, telephony/VoIP, call control, and video conferencing) and non real-time communications (such as unified messaging — integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax).
It is often assumed that UC is a single product UC is actually made up of a set of products that provides a consistent, unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types. In its broadest sense UC can encompassall forms of communications that are exchanged via the TCP/IP network.
Five essential benefits driving UC adoption by SMBs Do more with less — with a solution that is easily managed * to connect the Incorporate mobility growing mobile and remote workforce * operating costs Substantial savings on overall * service capabilitiesSignificant uplift in customer Move beyond basic * functionality
Do more with less — with asolution that is easily managed. Particularly important to smaller businesses is the ability to implement any technology that provides enhanced functionality while also being both affordable and relatively simple to manage. As expected, smaller organizations typically have fewer or more limited resources, from budgets to staffing, and a technology, as is the case with a UC solution, is especially appealing if it enables the organization to operate as a bigger business, but without the same costs. UC is increasingly recognized as a technology that allows SMBs to take advantage of proven increases in productivity and functionality while realizing significant savings.
Industry analyst, Gartner, points out inGartner Marketscope Report:Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony...“SMB buyers require simplicity and intuitive use in their UC solutions.Simplicity requirements extend through multiple stages (or touchpoints)of the UC acquisition — from initial considerationthrough ongoing maintenance and management Digium, ShoreTel and Microsoftof the UC environment. SMBs will favor working are positioned in the Visionaries Quadrant of Gartner, Inc.’swith providers (typically via their channel partners) 2011 Magic Quadrant forthat can demonstrate the solutions’ ease of use Corporate Telephony report.)early on in the sales cycle. Full-featured UCfunctionality can be positioned, but solutions that require complexintegrations will be less favored than solutions that can easily bedeployed with a minimal cutover time.”**Gartner, Marketscope Report Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony, 9/15/11Written by: Jay Lassman, Steve Blood, Geoff Johnson
Incorporate mobility to connect the growing mobile and remote workforceImplementing a An office is just about anywhere you need it to be, today,UC solution makes and it is increasingly important for remote and mobile workers toit easy to stay access the same phone system features, whether working formconnected to a desktop or a mobile device. By implementing a UC solution,customers and it makes it easy to stay connected to customers and prospects,prospects, from from any location, from any device. It also provides flexibility inany location, managing off-site employees, using features like presence andfrom any device. conferencing, and having additional monitoring capabilities.
Important elementsof a mobility feature in aUC solution include:* fixed mobile convergence and find me/follow me call capabilities* mobile applications for iPhone, Blackberry and Android* having access to company directories from any device* the ability to make calls from your mobile device as if it is from your office extension* the capability to transfer and record calls from your mobile phone to another number or extension too.* Look for UC solutions that offer this as an included basic feature; you should not have to pay extra for the capability.
Substantial savingson overall operating costs. One of the greatest benefits of implementing the right UC solution is taking advantage of the cost savings it provides. This includes both savings on the initial cost of the system, as well as savings on the long-term costs that lead to a good Return on Investment (ROI). To achieve the greatest opportunities for savings, it’s important to understand how to accurately compare vendor quotes. It’s easy to look at multiple quotes from UC vendors and assume that the final cost quoted includes the same parameters. But not all UC solutions are created equal, and not all UC vendors can offer the same cost savings. Another way to help SMBs achieve cost savings is to consider using a hosted solution which provides UC features in the cloud.
To get a trueapples-to-apples comparison...SMBs need to be aware of key differencesin quotes that can add thousands of dollarsto the cost of implementing UC solutions —both in near-term and long-term costs, and inboth hard and soft costs. For example, manyvendors offer a quote for base features, but thebusiness-critical features that an SMB needs,and the the features that make UC so useful— like mobility and third-party integration,require an additional fee. Licensing fees alsooften drive up costs, as well as maintenanceand upgrade costs, down the road.
Significant uplift incustomer service capabilities The right UC solution should be more than a phone system, it should be a better communications system that provides improved operational efficiency. A quality UC solution allows SMBs to serve customers more effectively using features such as call queues and IVRs, for example. SMBs should be able to use a UC solution to know more about every incoming call, in order to route each call appropriately, ensuring there are no more missed calls or lack of visibility.
FOR EXAMPLE:Jobbers Warehouse SupplyJobbers Warehouse Supply (JPW) is a leader in the automotiveaftermarket. This established SMB needed a UC system that would “At JPW, 80 percent of ourallow them to prioritize incoming calls from their customer base. revenues come from 20The UC solution that JPW selected offered an intuitive, user-friendly percent of our clients, and weweb interface that allows the operator to drag-and-drop calls while required a solution that wouldchatting online with co-workers, conferring over calls, reciprocating facilitate priority treatmentrequests, and assigning instructions. for that reigning minority.”JPW was able to get an integrated customizable database software using Tom Marks,SugarCRM, with two inbound call queues. The customer service agent CEO, JPWsimply clicks a selection box next to the customer name in SugarCRM toset a “preferred”, “general”, or “new customer” status, which determinesinto which of the queues the calls are routed. General callers move intothe non-priority cue and remain on hold while preferred status callersmove into the priority cue and take precedence.
Move beyond basic functionality Too often, SMBs evaluate new technologies based on whether or not the system can meet the organization’s current needs — in reference to both basic features included with the technology and in reference to the current size and structure of the business. That type of decision can cost an SMB thousands of dollars in future upgrade costs. “Future expansion,” may not mean something as extensive as expanding physical locations; it could be as simple as adding or moving an employee. The right UC solution allows SMBs a flexible system that provides extended functionality and that will grow with the business.
When evaluating UCsolutions, considersystems that can:* Easily accommodate future growth/operations needs of the business, without an additional, heavy investment down the road* Systems that include detailed reporting options that provide business-critical information about business operations and customer needs* Ability to integrate with third-party business applications, such as CRM, for a better user experience
ConclusionThe adoption of UC solutions by SMBs is being drivenby far more than a current trend in the marketplace. UC is a business communications solution that meets critical business needs for organizations of all sizes. UC can be a competitive advantage for businesses that need a single system to manage multiple tools andplatforms. UC allows businesses to be more productive, enhance customer service capabilities, and offer substantial near- and long-term cost savings.
Switchvox . Digium’s Powerful UC Solution ®In an effort to provide a similar solution A full-featured UC solution, fueled by the innovationaccessible to everyone, Digium offers of open source technology and open standards,Switchvox — a full Unified Communications Switchvox allows users to integrate their phonesolution, built on the power of Asterisk. system with their existing networks and get all of the advanced features they need at a price they canSwitchvox is a business phone system specifically afford. Most importantly, by using Asterisk opendeveloped for small- and mid-sized businesses source software as the foundation for Switchvox,and organizations that want the power of the open Digium is able to provide a communications systemsource Asterisk solution, but without the need for with superior capabilities for a fraction of the cost ofcustom development skills for installation. The proprietary systems.advanced features, ease-of-use, and simple out-of-the-box setup make Switchvox an ideal solution for Digium’s Switchvox solution delivers UC featuresorganizations with limited technical staff. everywhere you need it: on-site, in the cloud, and with mobile.