Small business owners: What if there was a way to unchain yourself from your desk and reach new levels of productivity in both your professional or personal lives? There is — and the key is unified communication. Just what does this term mean, and how can it help small business owners? Adam Puckett, director of business development at Frontier IT in Colorado Springs, fills our readers in.
Just what is unified communication, or UC? It’s an umbrella term used to describe technology that allows business people access to customers and other employees — as well as their own files and data — any time, from anywhere, in a variety of modalities.
“UC sounds kind of tech,” Puckett said. “It’s really more ubiquitously integrated communication.”
With UC, “the phone on your desk, the cell phone in your pocket, and your laptop or computer workstation — or whatever electronic device — are all integrated when it comes to communications.”
Think about your personal life — before cell phones.
The idea of being inaccessible to your contacts while out and about, unable to check messages until you returned to your home, is almost unfathomable nowadays, isn’t it?
Similarly, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to access from your cell phone messages left by customers on your landline — without giving away your personal number.
With UC, “you can get most of the features and functions on your cell phone that you used to have to buy expensive phone hardware to get,” Puckett said. “You can tie those two systems — legacy and modern/mobile — together seamlessly.”
What might a UC system “look like”? UC is highly customizable and offers seemingly endless options. It can allow small business owners to do all of the following from anywhere, at any time:
- Accept incoming calls to your business’ land line number — on your mobile devices
- Place calls from a cell phone that appear as if they’re coming from a land line number
- Video conference with employees and customers
- Access voicemails left on a desk phone via email or text message
- Identify contacts and customers whose calls are being routed from a landline to a cell
- So much more
“UC unchains you from your desk,” Puckett said. “Now that we’re at, or moving quickly toward, a mobile-first world, your cell phone can become your office — a hub through which you manage the rest of your life.”
As Puckett points out, “24 hours a day, your cell phone is never more than two inches away from you. You can manage your entire office communications through your phone, which is pretty slick.”
Sounds great, right?
Additional UC perks can allow your business to:
- Virtually eliminate capital costs when it comes to phone systems, as hardware is not required
- Blend and separate personal and business lives seamlessly
- Control the appearance of your business for pennies on the dollar
Before UC, only large outfits could afford the type of hardware and systems that allowed businesses to utilize features like auto attendant.
Now, thanks to UC, “you could be a 19-year-old kid printing T-shirts and selling them on Etsy” and look like a big company, Puckett said.
“You could have customers press one for operations, two for sales, and all of those options ring to your cell phone,” Puckett said with a laugh.
Where to begin?
Sounds pretty fantastic — and pretty overwhelming, given the multitude of possibilities, right?
With UC, small businesses have options for days — and there are always “two or three ways to skin that cat,” Puckett advises.
The best thing to do if you’re interested in unleashing the power of UC on your small- or mid-sized business: Contact an MSP, or managed service provider, the experts at Frontier IT recommended.
The talented, friendly, small business-minded experts at MSPs like Frontier IT can craft a UC plan to suit your company’s needs — and budget.
When it comes to UC, that budget can be a shoestring one, Puckett said.
“There’s almost no barrier to entry. If you can afford a phone number, you can get all the cool stuff.”