This subcategory lists communication software solutions that combine features of of other categories. This segment will allow you to discover and compare software products that will streamline your communication by providing you multiple services through a unified interface. Solutions from this list combine features like VoIP services and telephony with internal communication and IT management. Read the full software guide...
Unified communications software integrates a variety of communication tools for any organization. This includes voice calls, video conferencing, email, instant messaging, SMS messaging and more.
Unified communications (UC) systems are designed to bring together all the crucial business communications solutions typically used by an enterprise into a single unified communications platform. One of the main reasons for the existence of this software category is to provide a seamless user experience that also allows employees to work together in a more effective and cost-efficient manner, regardless of where they’re located or what device they’re using.
Unified communications software offers real-time communication from a company’s phone system and conferencing solutions along with unified messaging and chat tools and integrate all of them with standard day-to-day business applications. This integration process can be achieved by using an application programming interface or API.
By combining real-time communication tools like VoIP, instant messaging, presence information, call control and video conferencing with non-real-time communication solutions such as SMS, email, fax and integrated voicemail, unified communications (UC) help to streamline workflows, optimize collaborative processes and increase productivity for the entire organization.
Bringing together both telecommunications and business data on the same network enables users to easily incorporate valuable data, voice and video information as part of their fully integrated business applications. This will help save time and resources for the enterprise. Unified communications software is available as an on-premise system, a partner-hosted/hybrid solution or as a service via cloud providers.
Deciding between an on-premise unified communications platform and unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) is an important decision, especially if you’re investing in UC software to help modernize your existing business communications system.
On-premise UC systems were initially reserved for larger organizations that have the budget and the IT resources to actually implement them. Nowadays, it’s still mostly the case, for the simple fact that an on-premise unified communications platform has quite a considerable upfront cost. It’s simply too expensive and too difficult to maintain for the vast majority of small businesses and startups that still rely heavily on a conventional phone system for standard phone calls and cloud-based applications like Skype and Yahoo Messenger for their online communications requirements.
The good thing about on-premise unified communications (UC) platforms, if you can afford them, is that they offer disaster survivability benefits. Premise-based UC solutions allow for the occurrence of redundant connections to the Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN. This means that even if there is an internet outage, your business communications service, specifically your phone system, will not be affected.
This refers to unified communications software delivered to business customers as a service, also referred to as a cloud-based software solution. The advent of cloud-based solutions, specifically UCaaS systems, has made the technology more accessible to a wider range of businesses and organizations, mainly because of the significantly reduced upfront cost.
In addition to a lower initial price tag, UCaaS solutions are also easier to manage and maintain because it’s the vendors and service providers who shoulder the maintenance aspects of the unified communications platform. They are responsible for managing the service for the organization, which is highly beneficial for companies with limited IT resources.
Unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) is a comprehensive cloud-based solution that provides business users with a wide range of communications and collaboration features, business applications and services via the cloud. The main aspects that UCaaS solutions are capable of addressing are audio and video conferencing, VoIP/phone calls and chat/instant messaging.
Additionally, many service providers and vendors also include several team collaboration tools in their product/service packages, such as real-time document editing, file sharing and screen sharing capabilities. A contact center feature may also be included as an add-on product or as a separate solution that can be applied to any plan for extra cost.
Some unified communications (UC) vendors and UCaaS providers offer hybrid solutions, which allow for cloud deployment of services at certain sites, referred to as partner-hosted solutions, and on-premise deployment of the remaining components of the communications platform. With a hybrid UC system, you will have the benefit of experiencing the best of both worlds, ideally.
In a hybrid unified communications software solution, you’re still managing a single unified system, even though they are deployed in various ways across a number of locations. The UC system, including all business applications, can still be maintained and administered throughout the organization in a central user interface. Hybrid UC systems provide you with the survivability benefits from the on-premise aspect of the platform, as well as the ability to continue to utilize existing legacy communications and collaboration tools.
If you’re in the market for unified communications software, you will need to consider your networking requirements, organizational structure, legacy investments, as well as your budget, when deciding whether to opt for an on-premise solution, unified communications-as-a-service or a hybrid unified communications platform.
The unified communications software market is confusing and a bit overwhelming for the majority of buyers out there, not to mention the technology is constantly evolving. With that said, there are a few key considerations you need to take into account when choosing between products, services and vendors to make sure you land on the right unified communications (UC) solution for your specific needs.
Integration is an important feature for any business process software solution, especially when it comes to communications and collaboration. The UC platform you choose should have the capability to seamlessly integrate business communications with other business applications vital to your day-to-day operation.
In the recent years, more and more unified communications (UC) vendors and service providers are developing their products with pre-built integrations with some of the most widely used productivity suites, such as Google’s Gsuite and Microsoft’s Office 365. If you’re already locked into a particular ecosystem, like Microsoft or Google for example, then you need to go for unified communications software with built-in integration with those specific systems.
You want a UCaaS solution that can facilitate all your conferencing requirements. Web conferencing is a fairly recent means of communication, but the technology behind it never stops evolving. Web conferencing has significantly reduced the costs and operational complexities typically associated with audio and video conferencing.
Unified communications (UC) systems, however, still vary when it comes to the conferencing capabilities they have available for users. For example, not all UCaaS systems or UC vendors’ mobile apps are designed to support multi-party video conferencing over smartphones and tablets. While other UC platforms have limited capabilities when it comes to their web conferencing and business communications features.
While many vendors focus solely on providing a standalone unified communications platform, some service providers out there also specialize in multi-channel contact center deployments. Contact centers are designed to manage multiple communications channels, including SMS text messaging, email, live chat, instant messaging, social media and more. They serve as a unified messaging solution for organizations that want to provide a more robust customer service for their clientele.
Software vendors and service providers of this caliber can easily deploy a streamlined a contact center system that seamlessly integrates with a robust, fully functional unified communications software solution accessible by the entire organization. A few examples of this kind of service provider and vendor are ShoreTel, Jive, RingCentral and Nextiva.
It’s no secret that proper communication is one of the most important factors to a successful business operation. Collaborating team members can work efficiently when they’re in constant communication with each other. Efficient means of communications and collaboration make for increased productivity among all members within that team, regardless of their location or time zone.
Unified communications software allows businesses and organizations to switch from an investment-heavy communications platform to a more cost-effective, operational-based UCaaS model. Hosted or cloud-based services are generally less expensive and easier to manage and maintain compared to on-premise and conventional business communications solutions. Additionally, because of video call and conferencing, even travel and logistics expenses may also be reduced.
Unified communications (UC) solutions will allow you to connect and communicate with co-workers, partners and stakeholders from virtually anywhere at any time. Moreover, you have the ability to conduct video conferencing calls using almost any device, be it your laptop, tablet or smartphone. This capability enables your team and the entire organization to be more responsive, flexible and productive.
With features like screen sharing, documents editing in real time, live chat, voice/phone calls and video calls, file sharing and other built-in capabilities, your team can effectively work together even if they are far apart, working remotely in different regions and/or time zones. Team members don’t have to be in one room just to be able to perform their task assignments or tackle company projects.
Good unified communications software will bridge the distance between working individuals through an efficient, reliable and feature-rich communications platform that is also affordable, easy to manage and highly adaptable, so long as you pick the right UC vendor or service provider for your specific requirements.
|2-Factor Authentication||Adds an additional layer of security by requiring an extra step in the login process. Usually external devices are required for this or a text message with a verification code is sent to the user when trying to login.|
|API||Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are programmatic intersections with external products or platforms that allow for custom integrations with your own solutions or other solutions you are using.|
|Calendar Management||Manage and update calendars for scheduling or consolidation of events across teams, departments or business functions.|
|Call Recording||Record telephone calls and other audio sources.|
|Contact Management||Manage large amounts of personal or business contacts in a centralized system.|
|Contact Sharing||Share contacts across teams or platforms to give access to others or to migrate address books across different systems.|
|Email Integration||Integration with email clients or providers to create and send emails as well as view received emails within an application.|
|External Integrations||Integrations with other software products or platforms to improve efficiency and compatibility across systems.|
|Google Apps Integration||Integration with the G Suite, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, etc.|
|Multi-User||Supports more than just one user account and generally allows for collaboration with colleagues.|
|Notifications||Includes notification support and sends you alerts with information on important events and other time sensitive instances. For example through push notifications on mobile phones or email notifications.|
|Project Management||Manage projects from conception through the planning stage to delivery and post-project reporting phases. This allows organisation teams to organise resources, plan budgets and improve efficiency in the delivery of project objectives.|
|Scheduling||Schedule tasks, resources, appointments, payments, communications, etc.|
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