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Why small businesses need Unified Communications Solutions
21 August 2015 by SME Innovation Editors

If technological innovation is any indicator of changing trends in business communication, then modern businesses are taking giant leaps to change the way business communication functions. According to SM World Asia, in 2014, growth of UC systems in Singapore SMBs was at S$126M, which was a good 24% of the total SMB cloud market.

This figure is reflected across businesses in Singapore, as local service providers increasingly offer bespoke UC systems to SMEs and startups.

The question, however, is what is triggering this change?

In a digitally converged world, where business is not bound by time and location, email and desk phone connections are no longer adequate to meet communication expectations. The necessity to collaborate with international businesses in real time is prompting knowledge workers to switch to smarter communication applications.

Further, with multiple means of internal and external communications available today, businesses face operational, productivity, security and even regulatory issues dealing with each communication service. This drives costs up and efficiency down – a major concern for budget-conscious SMEs.

How can a unified communication system help?

1. Converged, Scalable, Predictable Bills

UC systems combine telephony and business data on the same network. This means, unlike analog telephone systems, it sends voice information over the network as digital packets, in much the same way as e-mail. Which means SIP voice delivery, email, voicemail, instant messaging and audio/video/web conferencing all integrated into the phone system. Users also benefit from having a single number for all their phones, and businesses can use the same geographic number across properties and mobiles.

This unification of applications saves small businesses telecommunications costs by routing calls, for free, over the data network. This also eliminates the hassle of going through multiple vendors for multiple systems, which racks up bills and costs - a major advantage for small businesses and startups.

Available both in the cloud and on-premise, businesses can adopt UC on either pay-as-you-go one-time payment models. With the pay-as-you-go-model, businesses can scale according to business requirements, providing the flexibility to expand and downsize as business needs dictate.

 

2. Seamless Enterprise Mobility

By opting for cloud-based UC systems, businesses enjoy ubiquitous access to applications, eliminating barrier to collaboration across geographical boundaries. Employees using UC can take a phone call from their desk phone and continue the call seamlessly on mobile, without disconnection.

This is also true for VoIP and other teleconferencing communication applications that remain unbroken irrespective of device and location. But as applications evolve, so do expectations. Mobile workers operating beyond business hours expect seamless collaboration with their business counterparts in real-time irrespective of location.

UC systems enable interoperability in businesses, while keeping employees connected.

 

3. Presence Across Network

For call centres which require handling calls out-of-office, UC enables seamless voice quality irrespective of location and media. With both telephony and data on the same network, a business can see all its agents’ activity and status on the network, and reach them anytime. By combining unified communications, instant messaging, and rich media services, businesses can ensure information reaches the right person at the first call.

In case an agent cannot resolve a caller’s issue and needs to hand off a call to another agent or supervisor, they can tell who is available regardless of location. Through a UC system, presence of a knowledge source extends across the enterprise, and beyond physical location, at any point of time. This helps first-call resolution rates and improves productivity.

To help SMEs accelerate decision-making, StarHub consolidates various communication services into one enterprise-grade UC solution – SmartUC. Designed to accelerate communication systems in both startups and established SMEs, SmartUC allows businesses to start small and scale up to 2500 users in a single system. Businesses can include all, or a few, of their employees with end-to-end deployment from installation to troubleshooting.

With a UC system in place, businesses gain an integrated and collaborative approach to customer satisfaction, leading to better customer experiences. However, before deploying such an advanced communication platform, businesses need to assess their network, total cost of ownership and suitability of the type of hosting.

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