Exactly how does UC improve business productivity?

by Rikus Jansen, head of EOH NS Voice and Unified Communications

To fully appreciate how unified communications (UC) can benefit an organisation we need to expand our mindset beyond telecoms to the broader communications spectrum.

Identifying the value of UC

A quick way to evaluate the benefits, or blunders, of UC is to assess how well employees are using all these communication applications. This is not least because UC applications are typically used in a standalone fashion. The result is a lot of inefficiency, duplicated effort and wasted time.

This obviously lowers workplace productivity, but it also causes another serious problem: it reduces return on investment for the underlying technologies.

By contrast, a proper UC infrastructure allows applications to be used concurrently, creating multichannel sessions so employees can collaborate more effectively. Furthermore, UC delivers a consistent user experience, meaning employees can work the same way regardless of the endpoint, operating system or network used to access the platform.

Since all employees use communications applications, productivity is where UC has the greatest impact.

UC with Presence – the key catalyst for productivity

When it comes to internal communications the key enabler of efficiency is presence, since it allows employees to see the status of co-workers in real time. This not only cuts down on wasted time, but by knowing which modes and team members are available, employees can choose the best form of communication for the task at hand.

Unified communications benefits employees by empowering them to work effectively from any broadband-accessible location. Today, that’s a key driver for personal productivity.

People also work in teams, where the need for effective communication is even more important. This is especially true in today’s scenario of disparate workforces and decentralised operations, where teams rarely meet in person all at once. This is where communications technology plays a major role. Businesses spend a lot of money on various conferencing services.

Conventional conferencing systems are reservation-based and not ideal for informal collaboration – a mode that many employees prefer given their busy schedules.

Thus, another key benefit is the persistent nature of UC – it’s always available, so ad hoc meetings are never a problem.

When both employees and teams are more productive, the organisation will be as well.

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Rikus Jansen is a Unified Communications specialist. He entered the South African technology space in the late 1980s, pioneering 3D animation and video effects in the broadcasting industry. This led to a career in corporate ICT outsourcing. He co-founded Ensync Voice Solutions, a unified communications company. After merging the Ensync companies with the JSE-listed ICT provider, EOH, he now heads up the EOH Voice and Unified Communications business, which is one of the leading communication providers in South Africa.