Unified communications (UC) solutions today go way beyond VoIP phones, video and chat options.

UC platforms are all about giving employees instant access to the tools they need to share ideas, collaborate and connect whenever and wherever work is being done. UC solutions have simplified the way we call, instant message, screen share, update files, text and video conference, essentially allowing us to do all of this from an integrated platform. Today’s UC platforms open up communication across organizations that were once more fragmented and siloed. As a result, innovative UC tools are increasing productivity, streaming workflows and bringing teams together across the globe.

Let’s review the most common elements of UC platforms and how they influence and enhance collaboration in the enterprise.

  • Real-time conversations mimic natural conversations: Unlike email, instant messaging applications mimic real-time in-person conversations because of their speed and simplicity. Messaging apps within UC platforms allow participants to ask quick, simple questions without disrupting other conversations that may be happening via email, in person or video. IM is also useful in managing brainstorming sessions during meetings and user-friendly IM apps can eliminate the need for additional meetings and extra emails. 
  • ‘Facetime’ with the touch of a button- Have you ever worked in an office that is 50 feet from a manager, without seeing or talking with them for days or even weeks? The truth is even in the same office, coworkers, a manager, and employees may go long periods without having any substantive, genuine face-to-face interaction.  Proximity doesn’t necessarily translate to producing more high-quality interactions. That’s why video calling has become more important than ever. Video and audio calling embedded into unified communications systems bring us together by allowing co-workers to interact and collaborate more easily from wherever they are with the ability to transition from audio to chat and to video very quickly. These new digital channels also serve to boost engagement and collaboration among managers and co-workers. By giving employees the opportunity to share more stories and best practices and emulating traditional face time, company culture can be validated and refreshed. In fact, a recent report from Harvard Business Review tells us that 87 percent of remote workers feel more connected using video conferencing. (Source: Harvard Business Review).
  • Always having the right files shared- We can all agree that conversations and conference calls are more productive when everyone is looking at the same information. Whether that’s a report, presentation or video. Innovative file sharing features available from UC platforms like Google Hangouts and Skype for Business allow the presenters to show everyone their desktop or document with a single click. Look for UC platforms that allow users to share all file formats, with no restrictions on file type or size. This will make direct calls, video or group conversations more productive and keep meeting attendees focused on the topic at hand.
  • Connected-on-the-go- Workplace flexibility is fast becoming one of the biggest drivers of transformational change in today’s digital workplace. It’s shifting how people see their careers and employment opportunities. A recent study by PGi tells us that 79 percent of knowledge workers in a global survey said they work from home, and 60 percent of remote workers said that if they could, they would leave their current job for a full-time remote position at the same pay rate. (Source: PGi). With more employees working remotely more often, connecting to chat, video and conference call options must be simple, fast and effective. A unified communications solution built around mobile options will help employees make calls from their smartphone or tablet and easily join meetings without jumping through hoops.

Unified communications platforms are making it possible for companies to cost-effectively deploy and manage the technologies that enable a smarter and more collaborative workforce. UC platforms and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) via cloud-based models are opening up the playing field even more. These service-based models give organizations maximum flexibility in leveraging tools including video conferencing, instant messaging, and desktop sharing, along with the new breed of social and collaborative tools. Whatever UC delivery platform is selected, look for solutions that are simple to use and remove barriers that keep us from sharing ideas and driving forward every single day.