November 1, 2013 Audio & Web Conferencing, Virtualization As every smart business owner knows, maintaining a consistently high-performing workforce is critical to ensuring your organization’s sustained success and growth. By empowering your employees with the necessary resources to communicate and collaborate effectively and efficiently, you can help enhance your customer experience and improve the overall productivity of your business. This is where Unified Communications (UC) comes into play. You may be asking yourself what exactly is Unified Communications, and more importantly, why should I care? It can be really hard to get a handle on the answer on your own due to the overload of information out there about the topic, so we’ll try to put it in layman’s terms for you. Put simply, Unified Communications refers to the integration of all of your communication methods (voice, chat, email, faxes), allowing your employees to communicate in a more streamlined and prioritized fashion. While it would be easy to talk about Unified Communications for hours on end, the three major ways most companies utilize Unified Communications to improve the efficiency of business interactions are presence management, mobility, and unified messaging. Presence Management It’s amazing how much time many companies still waste simply trying to track someone down to take an important call, join a Web conference, or to jump into a critical, impromptu meeting. Presence management applications help solve this dilemma by giving your employees the ability to easily establish when and how they can be reached. Using a singular, intuitive interface on their PC, tablet or smartphone, employees can quickly determine whether someone is available for a phone call, video conference, email, or instant message chat, and to then contact them in the most appropriate way. In addition to being able to manually assign your status (For example, “Busy”, “In a Meeting”, “Working Remotely”, “On a Sales Call – In the Office at 11”) throughout the day, many presence management applications, such as Mitel’s MiCollab Client (formerly Mitel Unified Communicator® Advanced), can automatically update your status based on your calendar appointments in Outlook or other email platforms, or even via your GPS location. Presence management applications also allow users to easily launch a collaboration session at a time most convenient for both parties. In these sessions, users can activate real-time desktop sharing, video conferencing, and file sharing of documents and presentations. These tools make it possible for employees to easily and quickly collaborate with one another, whether they work in the same office, remotely, or are in separate locations thousands of miles apart. Mobility Employees that are not “rooted” to a desk, whether they work remotely or simply are “on the move” within your facility or between various office locations, need to stay connected with the rest of the company at all times. Phone features made available through Unified Communications, such as “Hot Desking” and “Cell Phone Twinning” allow these employees to stay connected at all times, regardless of where they may be. “Hot Desking” allows users to log-in to any phone within the company network with their personal extension, giving them full access to make calls and receive messages from that device. It even loads all of that user’s programmed settings and preferences into whatever device is used. This functionality is becoming more popular in office environments with shared or “hoteled” office spaces, as well as environments where employees need to travel between office locations. “Cell Phone Twinning” gives users the option to have their mobile device ring at the same time as their office phone. This feature allows your employees to stay connected even when they may be mobile. Solutions like Mitel’s Dynamic Extension take this even one step further, enabling a smartphone or tablet computer to become a true extension of your communications platform, allowing you to utilize company voice mail, transfer calls, and use other common functions you’d use on your “desk phone.” Unified Messaging It’s inevitable that there are still instances where you are not available to communicate with someone, forcing them to leave you a message. Imagine a world where you could receive and review that message in the same inbox that your emails are in. In the days of traditional voicemail, this may have seemed impossible, but this idea of unified messaging has become very popular in recent years. In fact, users nowadays are able to rename their voicemail recordings when they reach their inbox, where they can then be archived and organized in any which way the user wants. This feature also provides the user with access to these voicemails from their mobile device. There are even options available that allow you to synchronize your email and voice mail, so that when you delete an email with an attached voice mail file, it’s also deleted from the voice mail server itself. Unified Communications can provide your employees with the resources they need to identify and locate the right person at the right time, stay connected from any location, and collaborate with one another instantly, all using one interface. Here at ETA we work diligently to provide all of our customers with a solution that works best for them. We’d be happy to meet with you and perform a comprehensive analysis of your communications workflow and infrastructure to determine how Unified Communications could play a role in boosting your employees’ efficiency and productivity.