Bringing unified communications to smartphones has kicked off a new wave of productivity, both for employees and IT. Here’s how enterprises can benefit.
The idea of unified communications (UC) has been around for years. How long? It was originally suggested as a way to combine e-mail, voice mail, and faxes. (Raise your hand if you remember faxes.) But it’s finally come to maturity, and with a number of cool features that combine the best features of telephones with the best features of computers. For instance:
- Find me, follow me. Employees can easily forward office phones to smartphones, or any other number. UC software provides many options for letting calls ring through. Employees can limit access to allow high-priority calls (from spouses or supervisors) while routing unknown numbers to voice mail.
- Application access. UC software, linked to software such as calendars, databases, or company directories, helps employees find colleagues, determine where they are, and view availability for immediate or future meetings.
- Audioconferencing. Sometimes it’s necessary to bring other colleagues into a call. UC software not only lets employees locate colleagues and determine their availability, it can also patch them into a call.
Perhaps the most exciting evolution of unified communications is the one that’s most logical in this mobile-driven age: it has spread to smartphones. Smartphones, after all, are really the amalgam of phones and computers. Employees use them to stay in touch with colleagues and clients, so it’s only logical that carriers should extend UC capabilities out to smartphones as well.
Consider this scenario: a salesperson fields a question from a prospect about a technical aspect of the product she’s selling. With a UC app on a smartphone, she can type in a few keywords, determine who has the appropriate background to answer the question, assess their availability, and either call or text them without delay. Question answered, prospect satisfied.
The benefits of UC are clear: simpler communication for faster collaboration and decision-making.