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Once upon a time, the telephone was the only way to communicate from a distance. And then in the 1990s, e-mail arrived. Gradually, e-mail became a victim of its own success: you can send a message quickly, copying in various people if you wish, and then you presume that your e-mail has reached its destination. However, if the recipient gets over 100 messages in his mailbox every day, there is no certainty that your e-mail will be read any time soon. In the past few years, IT has developed rapidly towards broadband IP networks (both data and voice).
As a result, the boundaries between the traditional telecom applications are becoming increasingly blurred. More and more IT applications are appearing that can be used to communicate and cooperate in a different – faster – way, such as instant messaging, videoconferencing and file sharing. Even voice traffic no longer has to use the phone line. That too, is now possible via the IP network. The success of applications such as Skype shows how people have now become familiar with Voice over IP technology.
The evolution of telephony towards smart cooperation with unified communication and collaboration tools is stimulated by the growing importance of mobility. How mobile are the staff in your company? Perhaps they are working more and more outside fixed office hours and in various locations – at home, on the road or with customers.
By working flexibly, we avoid traffic jams, we are more productive and we can achieve a better work-life balance. The first requirement to be able to work flexibly is that you have access to all professional applications, including mobile devices, wherever you are. Only then can we be as productive everywhere as we are at the office. That presupposes a good, secure connection with the company network.
If being mobile is so important, why not use a mobile device for all telephone communications? That may be a good option for one-man businesses and a lot of small companies or start-ups, but not for larger organizations. A fixed phone number makes a more professional impression and it’s easier for your customers if you can always be reached on the same, fixed number. Fixed-mobile convergence – where the mobile number is linked to the fixed number – means that the call comes in on both devices, so you can always be reached.
It works the other way round too: if you call someone from your mobile device, they still see the fixed number on their screen. So there is no longer any need to give customers your mobile phone number.
How often do you have to listen to your voicemail and call people back because you weren’t available? That, too, becomes a lot more efficient thanks to improved accessibility: fewer voicemails, fewer missed calls, more efficient communication and better service for your customers. You can even receive your voicemails by e-mail.
In the past, it was sometimes fairly complicated for companies to introduce unified communication and collaboration. They needed to have the right IT expertise in house, which was often only possible for large organizations. And some technologies were only feasible with bigger budgets. Videoconferencing, for instance, took place in meeting rooms with large screens and expensive systems. Now you can easily install video software on your PC or even on a mobile device – laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Unified communication and collaboration tools are now within reach for every company, via the Cloud. So your company no longer has to install or maintain any equipment. You don’t have to make any major investments beforehand in order to acquire internal UC knowledge or IT infrastructure; you simply pay a fixed monthly amount per user. What’s more, the number of users can be adapted very flexibly, which means that a unified communication in the Cloud solution can follow the growth of your company.