A complex variety of small and medium sized enterprises (SME) exist in the modern world. Generally, the SMEs pertaining to a special field of expertise tend to prolong their depth of skills which are also embedded in their indigenous business model. Depending on its scale of growth, the companies are characterized accordingly as smartly adapting their resources.
Not long ago, as short as even a decade, installation of internal unified communication (UC) infrastructure were the subjects for multi-site, Large Medium Enterprises (LME) where the business process had expanded its sophistication to a degree that the necessity was clear to have UC solutions. However, in recent trends, SMEs also actively searching for smarter ways to elevate their productivity and to maximize efficiency, started looking to the proven effective UC solution to be deployed to a well-functioning organization.
This blog post will point out the value additions of SMEs when UC is deployed, and by which standard of choice one should be taking among the varieties of UC solutions that can best serve SME’s needs.
SMEs can benefit from UC solution in multiple aspects.
Utilizing diverse communication tools to optimize for the best convenient collaboration, does surely increase productivity of an individual and thereby of an organization. UC solutions are comprised of telephony, conferencing, file sharing, text messaging, e-mailing and more to come soon. It’s totally up to one’s choice of tools and depends on the level of optimization of such tools into one’s business model for the best scenario to serve the given circumstance in each environment that the communications are seamless and easy for a corporation to prosper making profits as a result of increased productivity.
Employees in an organization should be able to communicate through various collaboration tools that are unified in a single platform. Not only group conferencing by voice, but with video and real-time chatting in groups will make collective action and collaboration smoother. In addition, screen sharing, and file sharing will be very handy especially when making decisions that need to be made urgently. Through a more efficient communication solution, you can assign the responsible personnel for a task to deliver the fastest response and transparently keep track of the task as it is being processed. Therefore deriving the finest team project results done by digitally enhanced collaboration.
There are cost saving benefits for a company that uses UC solution. First, the cost of using UC telephony is by far cheaper by reducing the operation cost. Moreover, collaboration via video group conferencing utilizing screen and file sharing for better presentation reduces the frequency of business trips that would have cost the company much more and yielding practically the same results. The features of video group conferencing and most other collaboration tools are already a part of UC solution provided mostly by default out of box which means no need for the users to invest in additional devices or solution that are still expensive in current times. But most of all, the greatest benefit is the customer experience improvement and employee productivity elevation that is directly related to a greater corporate profit.
Using your smart phone in and out of office as a business communicator is now common and is called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) which contributed significantly in making the UC solution to be truly seamless. Regardless of physical location, smooth and seamless communication is now easily available among employees and to the partners and customers. Whether you are taking your work home or are abroad, the office environment will be with you all the time and various types of collaboration can be performed in real-time.
Then, what needs to be considered when choosing the best UC solution for SMEs?
1. Identify your investment resources available for your communications solution.
SMEs with limited resources do need to take careful consideration and must plan and identify the budget availability. It’s no different when you are investing in a UC solution. Depending on the budget, you will make a strategy to go with a lower initial investment with higher operation cost or the opposite of investing initially high cost but with lower operation cost. It’s great to have all the feature out there but not all may be necessary, and the numbers of add-ons or extents of system capacity needs to be optimized for your environment especially when considering the budget availability. Normally when communications solution is deployed the whole IT infrastructure or at least some server investments are made. However, in case of SMEs who may be with limited resources, the possibility to materialize a unified communication solution in a single server is surely an attractive choice.
2. Is the communication platform structurally flexible?
For a fast-growing SME, it is essential for them to have a flexible communication platform. A solution which comes with very little initial investment cost but is unable to upgrade its platform and must replace the whole system is not a recommended choice if you are expecting dramatic business growth. The same goes for a solution that has most of the features with a high capacity but requires a big one-time upfront investment. The resources could have been invested in other critical areas with a better opportunity for the cost. Whereas, if one chose a flexible communication platform for an adequate amount of investment and is spread throughout periods as you grow, it can certainly reduce risks and surely lay a steady foundation that is in line with entities’ course of prosperity. Optimum investments on only essential communication features would not only unburden unnecessary cost but at the same time give space for core business concentration.
3. What features do you need now and what additional features in future?
A UC solution is not merely a telephony system. The concept of UC encompasses the features of real-time chatting, video and voice multi-lateral conference, e-mailing, online fax, file sharing and the like, which are made available across multi devices. One needs to examine specifically what features are needed now and what features may come to be necessary in the future. If the solution in consideration is flexible to have the add-ons or to expand its capacity, not every feature needs to be invested upfront. This flexibility from a solution should allow you to prioritize accordingly to the right extent and relevance to your unique business model and so it’s easier to design the best and optimum investment plan.
4. Are your IT resources independent from your core business operation?
SMEs often need to focus their limited resources on core business. Therefore, when SMEs choose a unified communications solution, it’s crucial for them to choose the right solution which is easy to install, maintain and operate. One may rely on an inhouse IT manager that can professionally manipulate the balance of such resources or IT outsourcing may do the job. However, to optimize the cost of IT operation for SMEs, the communications solution must be simple and easy so that minimum training is enough for independently handling the system configuration. And please do check if the solution provider can give support remotely for an emergency backup.
5. Is the solution secured and with risk mitigation measures?
UC on SMEs must be able to protect its corporate data. The nature of UC solution is on providing business communication to be ubiquitous, in and out of office on multiple devices with various forms and channels of multi-media communication. As convenient as it gets, stronger data security measures are needed. One needs to carefully select a solution based on its ability to provide security that abides by both regional jurisdictions and global standards. Whether it is complying on regulations or protocols on data protection such as General Data Production Regulation (GDPR) from European Union (EU). A solution needs to be checked if it’s complying with such regulations and standards.
6. Does the solution support multi-technologies and multi-devices?
Modern corporations seldom use only one technology for communications, especially in the current times of multi-technologies coexisting. Each means of communications like phone calls, video conference, e-mail, or group chatting has its own merits and had been living on through the stand of time. Which could explain why modern corporations adopt multiple communication technologies of either IP, Digital and Analogue or all combined. However, the mix use of different technologies brings jitter and errors that require in-depth orchestration for a resolution. Therefore, when choosing a communications solution, one must check whether if all the mentioned technologies and features are provided by a single platform that is in a coherent administration. This ensures stable service across multiple devices which may be operating on separate technologies. PC, tablet, smartphone and more options are ever being unified on anywhere at any time all synced and connected to the business phones in the office. Please choose wisely the solution that can safely elevate productivity efficiently in your workforce.
You can find more information on Unified Communications solution from Ericsson-LG Enterprise through the link.