Unified Communication and You: How To Focus On The Right Phone System

Settling on your regular POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) for your business is probably a good choice, if you’re really small. If it’s just you and a couple of other individuals, the POTS system is simple, has the usual hold/call waiting/caller ID functionality, and is reliable.

But if you have several employees and/or an eye on a more mobile workplace with employees that travel, you might want to consider a UC (Unified Communication) system. UC can give you the advantage of having a single system that will manage multiple tools across the board, which can help a smaller company take advantage of features that make them appear larger and more competitive.

UC is the integration of real-time communication, such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, telephony (including IP), video conferencing, data sharing, call control, and speech recognition, as well as services such as integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS, and fax. This choice can make your organization truly competitive and always connected.

With the help of Digium, we’ve put together a list of five things that you should consider when shopping for a system:

1. Select a phone system that lets you do more with less. The less you spend, the better, and there’s plenty of good plans to check and compare.

2. Use mobility features. With UC, you can integrate mobile apps for the iPhone, Android, and/or Blackberry with your phone system. This includes calling from a mobile device as if it were your office phone and allowing access to company phone directories. This also lets you stay in touch with your staff out in the field through conferencing features, and it even allows you to monitor as well.

3. Finding the best savings. Be careful of fees, which can hide and come up if you use an ‘optional’ feature. You should calculate not just what it will cost you now, but in the future, and consider your ROI as well; increased employee productivity can help make this pay for itself in the long run. Also consider maintenance costs, including renewals or upgrades.

4. Ultimately, it’s about the customer. The savings are important, but you can’t forget how this system will make things easier for your customers as well. Do you have call volumes so high that call queuing might be useful? What about using an IVR to help automate things?

5. Flexibility and functionality. Anticipate your business’s growth to help choose; consider needs you may have coming up. Consider, too, how easily your system is upgradable and what business processes you might need.

There are a lot of factors involved, the main one of which is accessibility. Whether for your customer, for you, or for your staff, speed and ease of access are paramount to your business. As long as everything above fits into your access needs, it should be considered.


About Michael Eckenfels

Michael is a writer and instructional designer, having worked in both fields for over a decade. He has had extensive corporate and freelance experience with a variety of business fields, including oil and gas, finance, health care, entertainment, and computer software. Michael is also an actor, having been in a wide variety of stage, series, and films over the last three years.

  • http://www.peterfretty.com/ Peter Fretty

    Great article Michael. With the ongoing evolution in video/voice/text, its crucial that SMBs select UC solutions that are not only applicable to current needs, but capable of evolving as well. Mobility needs to be a consideration as well as cloud.

  • Tamara Field

    Great article. It is important to know too that with a hosted PBX system, you can grow and contract your phone system with your business. It’s much easier with a hosted model than with an on-site system. Since it’s software driven, it just takes a few minutes to add/remove users.