Ten years ago, the majority of businesses operated from a central location, with a handful of companies providing mobile phones to employees for offsite access. Tools used to communicate with customers were limited, often with each component of a communications system delivered by different providers. This resulted in higher costs and limited flexibility.
Today, the addition of unified communications (UC) enables businesses to streamline their voice, video, and collaboration tools through one compact solution in the cloud, reducing costs and providing flexibility that was once unheard of. And, with increasing growth in mobility, the technology is expanding to provide more diverse options for workers so they may connect with customers at any time. UC has changed the landscape, empowering businesses with more options to optimise workloads for improved productivity.
Workplace practices have evolved in other ways as well. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for example, is becoming the new UC frontier. More than just carrying a personal and work mobile phone, employees increasingly use their own computers, and tablets to conduct business. UC applications are increasingly available for every device or via a website. This shift puts a demand on businesses to provide capabilities, from call routing to video collaboration, to ensure work continues seamlessly.
To meet the needs of customers, businesses are adapting their communications by operating through the cloud for on-demand access. By the year 2020, research firm Frost and Sullivan forecasted that the value of the Australian UC industry will exceed AU$1 billion. According to analyst company Grand View Research, this number will surpass AU$96 billion globally. Those who are slow to update their communications systems will eventually falter to their competitors who do make the switch.
While laggards struggle with antiquated means to interact with customers, rival businesses will have more responsive options that will not only process customer requests more quickly, but reduce overhead for the organisation, resulting in funds that may be invested into widening the competitive gap.
Generation X, a key group of today's business decision makers, has adapted to over-scheduled lives by becoming more mobile and seekers of convenience. They are less likely to venture out to a business for their services, preferring instead to shop online where they’re not limited by choice or geography.
Even businesses such as McDonald’s and Red Rooster are looking for creative ways to meet these needs by offering delivery services. While a business may not deal in burgers and fries, they all deal in customer relationships that may bring significantly more revenue per customer.
Professionals who can jump on a video call with clients with ease and can sign documents over the Internet will edge out competitors who may only provide a face-to-face meeting. This can shorten the sales cycle and close more deals quickly. Regardless of the industry, the businesses that can meet the convenience demands of the Gen X decision makers first will be the ones that win and retain their loyalty.
As UC continues to expand, more tools will become integrated into its platforms. Providers will push to go to market with key features that will differentiate them from the field. In addition, it'll be more imperative than ever to choose a provider that not only allows for customisation of a business phone solution, but also one that's able to grow as your business grows. This will help to save big dollars in reinvesting as technology changes.
Sure, there are some who will continue to prefer an on-premise only solution. However, the power, flexibility, and reduced overhead of UC's cloud-based systems increasingly make traditional on-premise solutions a thing of the past. Furthermore, increased understanding of and confidence in the safety and security of cloud technology will contribute to this shift.
Because UC technology is changing so rapidly, now is the time to look at your business phone system. Are you set up with the features that provide more options for communicating with your customers and employees? It's also the perfect time to learn about how to get the most of available features.
For example, integrating video collaboration into your daily business operations can go a long way to show your customers you're there at their convenience. Reviewing documents without having to travel to your office will also be greatly appreciated by over-scheduled professionals. Lagging behind the curve in business communications will make it more challenging to compete, but building and understanding your system now will keep you in the game.
To learn more about what video collaboration can do for your business, check out this white paper, Leveraging the Power of Video Conferencing for Business: Best Practices for Supporting Collaboration in the 21st Century.