by Felipe Godoy
The last 6 months have thrown all of us for a loop.The pandemic has fundamentally changed all aspects of our lives– from the way that children visit with grandparents to the way that we suddenly conduct business from our makeshift home offices. These are strange times, indeed.
For many businesses, the challenges of remote work continue in this new normal. For companies forced to make the switch to remote work quickly, the power of decentralized communication tools such as VoIP brought with them many pitfalls and limitations.
As of March 2020, an estimated 16 million knowledge workers started working remotely according to Silicon Vally software company Slack. As that number has grown, the challenges to businesses not prepared for a transition into the cloud have caused a strain on professional relationships as managers and employees seek to replace the collaboration and passive monitoring that happen seamlessly during an in-person interaction.Voice over IP has replaced traditional telephone systems, allowing companies to quickly deploy and allow employees to answer calls. But the same technology has left many without the ability to monitor the performance of staff and managers scrambling to find metrics with which to define success.
Unified Communication tools, also known as UCaaS, seek to bridge that gap. What does UCaaS do? In a word, collaborate. Unified Communications refers to a collection of tools that facilitate interaction between team members, clients, and automatically communicate with external software. These would include, text messaging, chat, video conferencing and desktop sharing, voice communications (telephone), and analytics and reporting.
While these tools can be individually sourced to cobble together a solution, the most powerful solutions integrate all these tools in a single software suite, and within a single portal. Having the tools for employees to communicate with each other, access customer notes, and for managers to monitor the real-time performance of staff has been documented to increase productivity and customer satisfaction. It has accounted for the explosive growth of products like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Salesforce. UCaaS solutions with the highest value are those that offer an integration of most of those tools under a single “unified” product.
What does the future hold?According to research firm Gartner in a survey of 500 company CFOs and finance leaders in the US, 75% have shifted at least half of their workforce to remote work, and 71% expect to continue to work remotely moving forward into 2021. As businesses adjust to new work processes and their challenges, Telecommunication platforms, social media, customer records, and employee management software will merge and Unified Communication tools will evolve further to encompass all methods of communication within businesses and with the outside world, and combining telephone calls, social media, text messaging, video, and even chat on company websites into a single interface.
Whichever way you cut the data, one thing is clear: Companies that adopt UCaaS stand to gain the most by improving communication and adopt these technologies early.