The face of business in Australia is rapidly developing as companies small and large strive to stay abreast of the demands of an evolving market. To achieve these goals, many business owners are adopting unified communication (UC) systems to connect staff and customers.
With more than 15 years of experience in Australian IT and Telecommunications, Fonality Director Dennis Mapanao offered us valuable insight into the current state of the industry, as well as what the future has in store for the country's relationship with UC.
1. What are some of the recent key developments in the industry, and what implications might these have for Australian businesses?
Cloud is the hype these days, with products ranging from Microsoft Office to Shared Drive facilities and Telephony. The big appeal, of course, is that the only thing you need to access these services is a device with an internet connection. As smartphones get smarter, I can potentially see them replacing PCs and laptops.
In the telephony market, more businesses are transforming their PABX services into smart solutions with UC. This basically allows hardware products such as smartphones, PCs and tablets to work in conjunction with the PABX, which in turn transforms the PABX into a real communication solution by adding internet connectivity.
2. How does unified communication benefit Australian businesses?
Australian businesses first need to understand that telephony is more than just dial tones these days. Some companies will be happy with the traditional PABX with landline connectivity - and that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that.
However, those who have a good understanding of UC functionality - including mobility, collaboration potential, data sharing, live chat, video calls, as well as a huge range of contact centre features - will enjoy many benefits and cost savings through better time management and productivity.
I think the important thing to remember is that the incorporation of UC into a PABX system turns a mere dial tone into an incredibly capable communication solution.
3. There are many UC options on the market. What should businesses look for when adopting a new communications system?
Firstly, business leaders need to think about why they are in the market in the first place. Are they looking to replace outdated systems, improve functionality, save costs, or all of the above? All businesses are different, but generally speaking a small business (with 5-25 seats) will want to look for communications systems with features such as:
- voicemail to email
- managed service
- staff visibility
- collaboration options
In addition to these features, medium-sized businesses (26+ seats) will also want:
- video collaboration
- document sharing facilities
- queue functionality
4. How does the future look for Australia's relationship with UC?
Technology advances will only get better and faster with the rollout of National Broadband Network. This new infrastructure will allow IP service providers to offer higher quality phone systems to business customers. I firmly believe that UC will lay the platform of how businesses will operate and interact with each other in the not-too-distant future. As a matter of fact, it's happening right now and there are many businesses using UC functionality for their communications and collaborating with other cloud / IP solutions and hardware devices. Ultimately, UC will change the way communications are delivered.
5. What's the key takeaway here for prospects?
The future of Australia's business communication rests on the shoulders of UC. Businesses that are considering adopting UC first need to think about how it will benefit them. Once they've answered this question, then it's all about finding a solution to fit their business - a good consultant can help guide them through this process.
It's also worth remembering that UC solutions are not only for high-end businesses, nor will they cost you an arm and a leg. UC is an ideal solution for small businesses who are seeking to upgrade their phone systems. The right UC system matched to the right business will not only improve day-to-day communications, but also boost productivity, morale and company loyalty.