Every business faces similar challenges. Controlling operational cost, improving delivery of customer service, finding an edge over competitors and being able to attract and retain capable employees. A unified communications for small business system is one of the most efficient ways to address all these challenges in one move. Unified communications and collaborations change the way a business talks to itself and to its customers, making the interaction much more flexible and dependable.

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Unified communications is a communication system that generally encompasses five specific capabilities.

1 – IP Telephony: Communications are sent and received in the form of IP packets on a data network as opposed to digital ones and zeros that the regular PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) uses. This also allows users to launch and receive calls from a laptop or desktop computer.

2 – Instant Messaging: allows for multiple people interact via text using laptops, computers or other devices like smart phones and tablets.

3 – Conferencing: Enables multiple people to communicate via simultaneous audio, both audio and video or a mix of video, audio and information sharing. This reduces the need for travel and encourages inter-company communication and communication with customers.

4 – Unified Messaging: An integrated capabilities set allowing users to send and receive text messages, emails, voicemails, faxes on a variety of different devices interchangeably.

5 – Presence: Allows users to indicate current communication status to others.

Unified communications are just that, unified, so all your communication tools that were standalone before are now in one place. This means telephones, fax machines, video conferencing equipment etc. From a business standpoint this means enhancing your inter-company communications allowing your business to respond effectively and rapidly to the needs of your business and it’s customers.

A measureable benefit of a unified communications system is being able to control expenses and derive additional profit from business allows a company to achieve and edge over its competitors. Communication costs are lowered by using a unified communications system, because software included with the systems can streamline on-going administration and optimizes performance. It is easy to make changes to the system and the way it operates which reduces the need for support. On top of these using IP trunk connections reduces the cost of long distance and tolls. From a physical aspect, in a large network, a single unified communications network allows a business to spend less on inside cabling.

Typical benefits that are experienced by businesses switching to a unified communications system in a reduction in telephone expenses, a reduction in 3rd party communications charges, reduced travel expenses, lowered facility and real estate costs, reduced losses in productivity, reduced long distance charges, no more mobile roaming charges and reduction of payments to outside support. The effects are felt on the balance sheet and in employee productivity as well as customer satisfaction. Unified communications is one of the most efficient ways to increase productivity while reducing operational costs. This is enabled by allowing your workforce to be more reachable and flexible by having a single IP number that can follow you.

As for actual device features, which can lead, your business to a performance edge, a unified communications and collaboration system provides all the necessary call handling options from call waiting, to employee support and integration with 3rd party applications.

Unified communications usage is on the rise worldwide and many savvy businesses are switching their networks. A recent survey showed that 76% of businesses, governments, and education and healthcare organizations have seen large rewards after going to a unified communications system.

Not all unified communication system providers are the same and some may not be the perfect fit for your business. It is important to keep in mind that there are many different options and choices available. Make a list of features important to your tasks, whether that is routing voicemail to email, VoIP integration, on-the road communication etc., to guide you in asking the right questions and making the right decision. Remember, a key consideration when selecting a provider and a system is the scalability. Ensure that your system has room to grow as your business expands, as replacing an inadequate system can be more costly than easy upgrades.

Broad-Connect Telecom is a leading Canadian VoIP service provider offering hosted unified communications systems. The company offers businesses the tools needed to simplify company communications with a streamlined environment, which is easy to use, easy to setup, and has easy to use features. Unified communications allows you to empower your business with a completely harmonized collaboration tool set.