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How to Find the Right Unified Communications Service Provider

Unified Communications Service Provider
December 8, 2021 / Evolve IP

unified communications service provider offers an integrated platform for collaboration, calling, and presence. These three core functionalities are essential to modern business, especially in the era of work anywhere, but not all unified communications (UC) service providers are created equal. Most say similar things, so it’s important that you have some criteria to use when assessing what a UC platform can offer and whether it really does have what you need to succeed. 

Because we know it’s hard to research technology — especially complex systems that need to plug into your existing tech stack — here’s a handy guide with boxes any worthy UC provider should check. You’ll prioritize based on your company size, current software use, and more, but these ideas will get you well on your way to picking a unified communications service provider that can help you crush your goals. 

Want to make this a no-brainer? Three trends point to where the industry is headed and why businesses of all sizes trust Evolve IP to help their team work from anywhere. 

Okay, let’s now take a closer look at the three main services UC performs: Collaboration, Calling and Presence.  

Collaboration Services 

The point of unifying communications is to make it easier for people to get things done, right?  Chances are that your company used a Collaboration suite like Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, or Zoom during the Pandemic. And that tool that has now become the center of your work universe. As your business is starting to figure out what “normal” looks like going forward, it’s important to decide if you are leveraging that platform for good, or you’d consider alternatives.   

Here’s what you want to look for: 

  • Team messaging that promotes a positive culture, quick sharing, status updates, and is easy to keep track of 
  • Desktop sharing: Desktop sharing has catapulted virtual meetings to a whole new level by allowing hosts and participants to collaborate around content as if they were all in the same physical meeting space  
  • Web conferencing abilities for both internal and external audiences, and dial in conferencing for those who need it 
  • Integration with project management or CRM tools, making it easy to tie messages and conversations into tasks in real time 
  • Document management and reporting 

Here’s what you may also want, depending on your business: 

  • Enhanced security protocol for data transmission, data limits or restrictions, or encryption for sensitive data 
  • Increased storage capabilities 
  • Specific storage processes for legal, medical, government, or classified data 

Communication Services 

While your collaboration platform likely sits at the center of your Unified Communications story, it’s not the only consideration. In fact, as businesses begin to consider what a partial or hybrid return to work looks like, they are now faced with how to get their new collaboration tools to “play nice” with the more traditional communications requirements that they have in the office. Desk phones, receptionists and assistants, overhead paging, shared devices in common areas and conference rooms, contact centers, and mission-critical reliability still have a place in modern business. Getting all of this, and tying it seamlessly into your modern collaboration tools, is truly what makes UC, well, unified.  

Centralizing the communication of remote teams, hybrid workers, virtual-only employees, and in-office personnel and systems is critical. 

Here’s what you want to look for: 

  • A Communications service that natively integrates into your Collaboration tool of choice   
  • Voice over IP and other voice services that are uninterrupted and the best quality possible (i.e., 99.999% uptime, MOS, etc.) 
  • Seamless transition to mobile devices without plugins and extra software 
  • Integration of your legacy devices from desktop phones to paging and door systems 

Here’s what you may also want, depending on your business: 

  • Recording and AI to keep track of conversations not happening in the office 
  • Advanced Contact Center features or integrations 
  • IVR (Interactive Voice Response) for customer self service 
  • Integration into CRM systems for click to dial and screen pops on incoming calls 

Presence Services 

One thing is for sure in the new era of work, gone are the days of yelling over the cubicle wall to find out if your associate can chat. Knowing when your associates are available or not facilitates faster communication and creates a sense of place, despite the various locations we are working.  It was all so simple when we could look at our bosses’ line to find out if they are available for a critical consult.    

Presence and internal calling services should facilitate communication and coordination among staff members and teams who may be working in different locations. But what happens when we’re on the phone or in an online presentation and our calendar displays us in a meeting? When there are 4 places to check, we might as well just place the call and see if they answer. 

Here’s what you want to look for: 

  • Integration between Collaboration, Calling and Meeting presence: Each should tie together and reflect the true availability of your teammate 
  • Availability options: We need to be so much more than “available” these days. It’s important to know when people are presenting on-screen, or focusing, not just whether they are in the office or on the phone. 
  • Custom workflows and message deliveries based on user availability settings 
  • Settings that can be changed to meet business requirements, such as message logging, message history, message compliance, persistent chat, and group chat 

Here’s what you may also want, depending on how your business operates: 

  • Integration with shared calendars, manager-run calendars, employee-run calendars, and customizations 
  • Settings for regulated industries that ensure compliance with communication standards, disclosures, and more 

The one factor that applies to each of these three broad categories is scalability. Your business will grow. As it does, will the unified communications service provider you choose be able to scale with it? It’s key to not get locked into something that works “for now,” without an eye for what will work in the long-term. Think about how your needs may shift in the next three, five, even ten years, and factor that into your choice. 

Communicate Any Way, Anywhere, with the Right UC Services Provider 

Feel intimidated by the lists? We get that vetting, then moving forward with, a unified communications service provider can be a little intense. But in the modern business world, collaboration is non-negotiable, and more and more teams are running operations online. This dynamic is not only inescapable, but it also has massive potential to change business as we know it.  

Teams that have adopted unified communications platforms early on understand its value, and run sleek, agile, efficient businesses. If you are ready to push play on this important tech, or upgrade from a platform you’re underwhelmed by, contact Evolve IP today. We’re here to help you scale, making it simpler to future-proof your technology footprint. Our team of experts serves businesses of all sizes with a full range of UC services and offerings. We’ll be happy to help. 

Categories: Unified Communications
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