Technology is making it easier for businesses to operate outside of the traditional office environment, with next-generation Collaboration solutions becoming increasingly popular in the business world.
Industry analysts are predicting that the UCaaS market will deliver 22.5% CAGR to reach $18 billion by 2020, suggesting that the adoption of UCaaS is still on a strong upwards trajectory.
Companies can optimise their workforce by integrating real-time communications features; such as voice, video, and instant messaging, with non-real-time services such as email, voicemail, SMS, and near-real-time services such as next generation messaging and meeting applications.
Now, with the availability of cloud-based collaboration services, this technology is within the cost-effective range of even more businesses, including SMEs.
So, if you’re considering deploying collaboration technology in the near future, here are five ways it can benefit your business.
1. Workforce productivity
The ability for employees to communicate effectively, regardless of location, is critical for most businesses. Collaboration tools can be amongst the most important a business can deploy.
Most individuals are accustomed to using a variety of voice and written forms of communication in their personal lives, and increasingly expect the same levels of versatility in the workplace.
By bringing together voice, messaging, web conferencing, video conferencing, and presence information; UC ensures that staff can communicate with their colleagues in a way that best suits them, speeding up employee engagement and allowing them to collaborate efficiently.
For example, why wait for a colleague to reply over email when you can use Instant Messaging for a faster decision-making process? You can use video conferencing instead of voice calls to build stronger relationships with suppliers, partners or prospects?
2. Flexibility for employers and employees
Workforce flexibility is no longer up for discussion. If businesses can’t offer their employees the choice to work at times and locations that suit them, they risk losing them.
By deploying collaboration tools, employers can provide their staff with the mobility and flexibility that they need. On one secure platform, employees can have access to all communications channels and receive a consistent, seamless experience across a desktop or mobile device.
This allows employees to be as productive on-the-go as they would be if they were working from the office. Access to all corporate communication features and channels will enable them to work at any time and in any connected place. With UCaaS, work is something that we do, not a place we go to.
3. Cost reduction
SMEs generally need to run as ‘lean’ as they can, and UCaaS models can provide an enterprise-level feature set as an operational expenditure service, not as a capital expenditure.
By consolidating all communication, including voice, email, voicemail, instant messaging, video, and next generation messaging applications, into one seamlessly integrated offering; businesses no longer need to pay for (and support) multiple individual tools, products or equipment, potentially saving them thousands of pounds.
With built-in HD video conferencing, companies can also avoid spending money on travel to face-to-face meetings with colleagues, clients or prospects, which, depending on location, can prove to be very costly.
In addition, a pure cloud solution can greatly reduce the amount of on premise hardware that needs to be supported; whilst also providing the flexibility to swiftly scale up or scale down without making a huge capital investment. For instance, a retailer may need to add extra customer service agents in a busy sales period, like the run up to Christmas.
However, in February they may only need a smaller team. This flexibility is critical for smaller businesses. In this example, a scalable UCaaS solution would work well.
4. Delivering a seamless customer experience
We’re living in ‘The Age of the Customer’, where it’s not enough to just make customers happy. SMEs need to support their clients throughout their entire journey with fast responses and meaningful engagements.
If they can’t get an instant answer to their query on the channel of their choice, these tech-savvy customers will not hesitate to move on to a company that does satisfy their needs.
A UC implementation can dramatically improve the customer experience, providing support for multi-channel and features such as intelligent routing, so customers reach a company expert to answer their query for fast, first-time resolution. Essentially a small company can deliver a level of service that will compare favourably to bigger companies.
To further add to this point, the Forrester Research survey commissioned by Cisco; suggests that businesses can significantly improve their responsiveness to customers with UC, with 77% stating that they would improve customer satisfaction if they could transfer complex customer product questions to support personnel in real time.
5. Accelerating innovation and growth
Collaboration provides wider access to geographically dispersed individuals and allows for greater integration within business. Not only can this help an SME grow faster, but it can also provide mutual support networks between organisations and internal departments, which can enhance productivity.
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Moreover, this increase in productivity leads to innovation which creates competitive advantage through knowledge, good practice and information sharing.
UCaaS solutions have slowly but surely become the holy grail for SMEs. By promising mobility, flexibility and scalability to businesses; this technology will enable smaller organisations to stand out in front of competition, retain members of staff and provide a seamless customer experience, which can lead to a better service and, ultimately, greater profitability.
Sourced by Mark Phelps, Collaboration Product Manager, Node4
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