UC for SMB – Enhancing Productivity and More…
You’re a small- or medium-sized business that wants to be as productive and effective as large enterprises, but you have limited resources. How can you improve internal and external communications while making workers more efficient even while mobile? The answer is unified communications (UC). Today’s UC tools are no longer a “nice to have,” but are now a “must have” for companies of any size. UC solutions, including telephony, conferencing, collaboration, mobility, click-to-call, and other capabilities, help streamline communications, making companies more effective, and agile.
As a small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), you have the same goals as your larger counterparts – improving employee productivity, enabling greater worker mobility, and growing your business, while enhancing customer interactions and engagement. Of course, you need to do all of this with fewer staff and resources than larger organizations. Helping to streamline communications and enhance collaboration, UC solutions help SMBs appear and act like a larger company in order to more effectively compete.
With UC tools such as VoIP calling, presence, instant messaging, mobile access, audio and web conferencing, document or desktop sharing, and more, it’s easier than ever to connect with employees in real time and enhance productivity. Employees can work from anywhere and have access to the same communication tools they have in the office.
Why SMBs Need UC
Effectively communicating with customers, suppliers, business partners and employees is essential. A disruption in communications could easily send a customer to a competitor, and for SMBs, each and every customer is important. Missing a customer’s call or not being able to get sales calls while in the field can have a big impact on a small or mid-sized business.
SMBs need to watch the bottom line more closely than large enterprises, which means tighter budgets for discretionary expenses such as travel. In addition, SMB workers often juggle multiple roles and perform jobs that would be done by specialists in large enterprises, such as marketing or support, which means that every employee needs to be as efficient as possible.
Whether a large global enterprise or a mom-and-pop shop, businesses have the same communication challenges, including waiting for information, unwanted communications, barriers to collaboration, and solving customer service issues.
Focusing on more strategic objectives such as enhancing collaboration to foster better and faster decision making or enhancing customer engagement, SMBs are turning to UC to help them better compete.
I had the opportunity to speak with small- and medium-sized business owners and ask them why they moved to a UC solution and how it impacted their organizations. Here’s a sampling of the discussions:
- “As an SMB, everyone does a little bit of anything. Anything that lets us do things more efficiently helps the business, and UC has been a tremendous help.”
- “Not having our sales people locked down to their desk is important, and UC’s mobile capabilities make our sales people more efficient.”
- “As a small company with 50 employees, it’s vital that our customers can get their orders in, and that we can take care of any issues that come up.”
The bottom line is that UC helps SMB workers do their jobs better, which in turn helps their companies be more successful.
Benefits of UC
Unified communications tools help SMBs improve communication and collaboration in a number of ways:
Mobility - Regardless of location, employees need to be in touch and be responsive to customers and partners at anytime – whether they’re on the road meeting clients or in the office. UC capabilities like mobile extension let incoming calls ring simultaneously on a desk phone, home phone, or mobile device, so callers only have one number to dial.
Collaboration - Even very small businesses need to collaborate and share information – not only internally, but also with partners, customers, and suppliers. Enabling workers to be more productive and effective, UC conferencing and collaboration capabilities help businesses save time and money. For example, instead of traveling to a supplier’s or customer’s site, workers can use web or video conferencing to interact, saving time and reducing travel expenses. With the help of collaboration tools to share documents and knowledge, SMBs can get products designed and developed and out the door, create marketing campaigns, complete a transaction, or make decisions faster and easier.
Business Productivity - Most workers waste an average of more than two hours trying to reach people who aren’t available, sending emails that go unanswered, or similar tasks. UC tools such as presence, instant messaging, and click-to-call help workers efficiently make and take calls, set up and join conferences, and share information. For example, using UC presence capabilities, sales reps can easily find available subject matter experts and send a quick instant message to get additional information or bring them into the call to speak with the customer to seal the deal.
What to Look For
With a smaller IT staff, it’s important to look for solutions that are easy to deploy, manage, and maintain. Find a vendor that specializes in SMB solutions rather than simply providing a “lite” version of their enterprise product with an enterprise price tag. In addition, working with a single vendor that can provide a complete solution can help simplify the process. For example, vendors such as Sangoma offer not only the phone system/PBX with the key UC features, but also provide the needed connectivity hardware and software, such as SBCs and Gateways, as well as SIP trunks for the network connection.
Sangoma’s two offerings – Digium SwitchVox and PBXact – are purpose-built for SMBs and are available for premises or cloud deployments. While not a name that many businesses are familiar with, Sangoma’s primary business is offering value-based UC solutions with enterprise features for organizations with up to 2,000 users.
UC isn’t just for the big guys. SMBs that want to appear larger and more effectively compete with larger enterprises are turning to unified communications solutions to improve internal and external communications and collaboration.
The results are clear. If you’re an SMB, it’s time to take a look at UC solutions that can help you improve productivity, reduce costs, and deliver business results.