Unified Communications & Contact Center Options – Making the Transition
Imagine a customer requesting detailed technical information about your products and services. These calls can be tedious for customer service representatives who lack technical knowledge of a particular product or service. Now imagine that the same customer service representatives have a full menu on their computer screen that describes the exact technical knowledge of that particular product or service, as well as other detailed information that the requesting customer can use for immediate action.
In the world of Unified Communications (UC), technical support calls are handled and handled in a very different way than they were just a decade ago.
Moving to a UC platform improves communication both inside and outside, providing employees with better technological tools that add value to the overall communication process. This article provides useful knowledge and information to help you transition to a unified communications platform.
UC is, in fact, a single platform for communication in all its forms. These can be landlines and cell phones, email, instant messaging (IM), VoIP, IP PBX, fax, voicemail, conference call, video conferencing, interactive board and unified messaging. Your employees will be present in your corporate communication, whether they are physically in the office or not.
The concept of presence is easy to understand in instant messaging, where the “buddy status” is available at first sight. UC takes another step by combining these “buddies” with special skills and linking them to specific areas of expertise. All this will be available at once.
UC delivers all of these messages in real time in a single environment that users can access through a simple interface. For example, customer service representatives may have a list of employees familiar with the product, as well as the best way to contact that person immediately who has the right answers on the details of the product.
A single messaging system can combine messages from a variety of sources, such as email, fax and voicemail, but (in any case) does not allow real-time delivery. Unified messaging systems store this information on multiple platforms so that the user can access the information as they see fit.
Today, however, a unified messaging system provides better synchronization of data exchange that was not available a decade ago. It is important to understand that a single messaging system delivers efficiency through the consolidation of communications; it’s not the same as UC. Often these terms are swapped and interpreted as having the same meaning.
Again, it’s not the same thing. Combining communications on a UC platform can have a huge positive impact on the productivity of your business. Companies with offices around the world have an excellent ability to synchronize communications, working in real time 24 hours a day. With additional features, calls can be routed according to predetermined rules.
For example, if an employee works in a remote location outside the office, a UC can send a call to his cell phone and then send a voicemail message to his voicemail. At the heart of the CPU is Internet protocol voice technology (VoIP), which allows you to make analogue phone calls over the Internet. In fact, UC expands this functionality by allowing other communications under the same protocol. Switching to APU doesn’t have to be a tedious process.
First, think about what powerful technologies your business already has and how these assets can fit into the new platform. Think about what messages are already being sent using Internet Protocol (IP). Your business may be a few steps away from integrating them into a truly unified format that will greatly improve productivity.
Another advantage of introducing CPU into your business is the increased security of business communications, which did not exist before. Without a CPU, data is exchanged across multiple data formats using multiple protocols, and you may not control some information.
Cisco, a hardware manufacturer best known for its routers and switches and reputation for “Internet highways,” also offers software solutions for unified communications and the necessary equipment. Cisco is better known as a computer equipment manufacturer; so, of course, the company’s UC solution is more hardware.
Two major players in the IT world have developed UC solutions. In fact, which one is best for you depends on your specific needs and the financial resources of your business to support and maintain the technology. Keep in mind that customized solutions are available from Microsoft and Cisco depending on the size of your business.
Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 is available in two editions: Standard and Enterprise. Standard Edition is designed for small and medium-sized businesses with a server platform on the same computer. Combined with the Standard Customer Access License (CAL), it provides messaging, peer-to-peer video, voice and file transmission in an integrated and secure Microsoft Office environment.
One of Microsoft’s advantages in the small business world is getting to know its products. As with any other Microsoft app, when you install Office Communications Server 2007 and launch an app, you immediately get to know the interface and find it very intuitive, given your familiarity with Microsoft products.
Standard Edition is for organizations that don’t need server clustering and don’t use a virtual server environment.
Enterprise Edition is designed for large companies with more than one server. With this release, your organization will benefit from the features offered by the standard version by purchasing a standard license as well as additional business features. These include app sharing, VoIP, software-supported software, webcasts, and full telephony management.
Enterprise Edition requires the purchase of Standard Edition licenses. Once the licenses have been acquired, full access to the entire range of Enterprise and Standard features of the Microsoft Unified Communications platform will be available.