Archives for the month of: January, 2014

Unified Communications

What’s it all about?

This week our resident Unified Communications expert, Chris Watling, provides you with answers to the most basic questions around UC.

What Is UC?

One of the questions that I am forever being asked is what is Unified Communications? The phrase has been around so long and there are so many products that have been described as Unified Communications, that no one seems to remember what UC actually is.

Unified Communications as a Concept

Like all good things, UC is simple, but complex to explain. UC is designed to bring together all means of communication and enable you to choose the most appropriate one to your situation.

The idea is that all channels of real time communication (phone calls, presence information, conferencing and instant messages) are integrated with non-real-time communications (voicemail, email and Fax). Unified communications is not one product but a set of ‘products’ that provide a standard user experience across a range of devices and mediums.

True Unified Communications allows an individual to send messages in one medium and for them to be received in another. The most common example is receiving a voicemail and then being able to choose to access it via email or from your phone. Presence information allows the receiver to choose the most appropriate method of response. If the sender is online then real time channels (instant message, voice call) are best, or if the sender is offline a non-real-time message may be preferred which can be accessed from a number of different media.

Why Unified Communications?

Multiple communication methods and better information about contact availability are inherent to a Unified Communications solution. You will always know when a contact is available, so gone are the days of telephone tag. This saves time and allows users to be more productive.

Multiple communication methods mean that you can choose the channel that best suits your message. For example: you need an answer quickly but it is going to be a short and simple conversation, so you communicate by instant message. In the past this would have been a phone call, would have taken longer to complete and would have interrupted what the other person was doing (if they were there at all).

With Unified Communications online and offline communications are available on multiple devices (PC/tablet/smartphones) this means that users can work from anywhere. In some organisations the implementation of Unified Communications has allowed the business to change working practices and reduce the amount of office space required as more people hot-desk and work from home. This has also proven very popular with staff that appreciate cutting down on journey times and having more flexibility around how they spend their working day.

Unified Communications improves productivity. For example, lags in workflow due to inefficient communications are reduced. One organisation that implemented Lync found that first time fix rates were improved. Agents in their contact centre could see which specialists were available through presence, so routed calls successfully to the right person first time.

Unified Communications Solutions?

There are lots of products out there claiming to offer “Unified Communications”. How will I know what is right for our organisation?

At the time of writing there is no single ‘product’ that delivers the full Unified Communications experience off of the shelf. Most of the products out there offer a good solution. For instance Microsoft Lync or Cisco Jabber. However some very specialised applications, such as contact centres, may require third party software to complete the UC solution.

Have we raised more questions, than we have answered? If you would like to explore how UC can benefit your organisation, please do make contact. For more information and impartial advice call us on 0844 477 1622 or email sales@com-solutions.co.uk

Next week we will run through the benefits to SME, to find out just what UC can add to your business.Want the chance to win a Plantronics Voyager Legend UC Bluetooth headset. All you have to do is tell us your story of how flexible working and Unified Communications are changing the way you work, or dream big and tell us how you’d like flexible working to change your work-life balance. So send us an email to: competition@com-solutions.co.uk

Flexible working

How does it work?

From April 2014 the flexible working law will change. As it stands carers have the right to request flexible working from their employer but in April everybody will have the right to apply for flexible working for any reason. This will mean big changes in the way people work and the way businesses are run.

Flexible working can work in several different ways:

Job Sharing: 2 people do 1 job, splitting the hours.
Home Working
Part Time
Compressed Hours: Full time hours across fewer days.
Flexitime: Employees choose when to start and finish work, within agreed limits.
Annualised Hours: Employees work a set number of hours over the year, but with flexibility over when they work them.
Staggered hours: Employees have different start and finish times to other workers.
Phased Retirement: Employees choose when to retire and can work part time hours.

To apply for flexible working an employee must make a written application to their employer. Following this a meeting must be held between the employer and employee to discuss the application. Within 14 days of this the employer must notify the employee of their decision. If the application is rejected, the employee may make an appeal is the believe that the decision was made with incomplete of inaccurate information.

Here at Communications Solutions UK we believe that with the right technologies in place employers and employees alike will benefit from flexible working. One of the technologies that will play the biggest role in flexible working is Unified Communications (UC). Next week our resident UC expert will be providing the answer to the most obvious and most illusive questions: What is UC and what will it do for me?

Worried about how flexible working will effect your business? Talk to us. 0844 477 1622 or email us at sales@com-solutions.co.uk

Want the chance to win a Plantronics Voyager Legend UC Bluetooth headset. All you have to do is tell us your story of how flexible working and Unified Communications are changing the way you work, or dream big and tell us how you’d like flexible working to change your work-life balance. So send us an email to: competition@com-solutions.co.uk

Flexible working laws are changing

Is your business ready?

From April 2014 the laws on flexible working will change. Currently employees have the legal right to apply for flexible working if they are a carer, however from next spring everyone will have this right.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be providing you with all the information you need to make sure that your business is not only ready for an increasingly mobile and flexible workforce but can thrive because of it.

From job sharing to ‘flexitime’ the workplace is changing, so we want to give you the tools to keep your business ahead of the curve and prepared for the modern working environment. We’ll tell you how Unified Communications, cloud services and the latest hardware can help your business, through increased efficiency, reduced costs and greater integration of your communications systems.

We’ll also be giving you the opportunity to win a Plantronics Voyager Legend UC Bluetooth headset. All you have to do is tell us your story of how flexible working and Unified Communications are changing the way you work, or dream big and tell us how you’d like flexible working to change your work-life balance. So send us an email to: competition@com-solutions.co.uk