Unified Communications: Unified Messaging

Female Hand Messaging On A Cell Phone.
One of the core components of unified communications (UC) is a strong unified messaging (UM) system. In the context of a UC suite, unified messaging refers to a single interface for emails, voice messages, faxes, and SMS text messages. Teams can streamline workflow and access various communication formats on the go through a single app on a desktop or a mobile device. Read on to learn more.

How Small Businesses Can Benefit from Unified Messaging

The biggest advantage of unified messaging is the simplicity of hosting assorted communication mediums on a single server; businesses benefit from both improved productivity and added convenience for users.

Because unified messaging works across multiple platforms, people can save considerable time and effort by centralizing their communications. For example, voice messages can instantly be converted into text and sent in an email, saving the tedious process of dialing into voice mail, entering a passcode, and listening to a message. Additionally, remote workers can use their smartphones to listen to these transcribed messages.

Mobile access to a single inbox allows users to tap into their unified messaging network from practically anywhere. This solution even works for international business travelers, who may prefer one form of communication over another as a cost-saving measure or because they have limited access to resources such as high-speed Internet.

The fast and easy communication offered by unified messages adds up. For example, someone who wants to check a dozen voice mails while rushing between flights in a busy airport can quickly look at the transcribed messages in their inbox and decide which ones are most important to respond to. If they don’t have time to type a message on their smartphone’s keyboard, they can reply via email using voice recognition—a good strategy if they truly don’t have time to talk to a partner but still need to share information. Because all these processes work through a single-source app, people save time by not having to fumble through multiple apps to accomplish what a single UM system can do.

Even traditional fax communications (which still have a place in the business world) are integrated into unified messaging systems. Instead of holding onto your aging fax machines, you can have a fax program built into your UC suite, enabling you to transfer documents from the same inbox interface as other modern communications.

Perhaps the best thing about unified messaging is that it’s simple to implement. Most, if not all, of your workers will already be familiar with the technology; text messaging, email, and voice mail are firmly established within any work environment. Grouping these communication methods together in a single interface involves very little training and has a quick learning curve.

Better Communication Equals Better Workflow

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

This famous quote by Bills Gates perfectly describes the benefit of unified messaging. On their own, digital communication and automated voice services have leveled the playing field for small businesses competing with larger companies. Magnifying that advantage with the use of unified messaging furthers the fluidity and responsiveness of a company, all while cutting costs and providing an improved customer experience.

The second part of this quote applies to UC and UM as well. Trying to automate incompatible messaging services can amplify their weaknesses, such as slow deliveries to emails that need to be addressed in a timely manner. Investing in a unified messaging system neatly elevates Gates’ first rule and wisely avoids forcing stand-alone services into areas they’re not designed for.

Connecting with Unified Messaging Services

Unified messaging helps teams work more efficiently and breaks down the barriers that often cause communication breakdowns. Combined with video conferencing, mobile UM apps and collaboration apps can make your small business better connected and more successful.

To learn more about UC and why it’s a good fit for your business, visit our previous post on What You Should Know about Unified Communications, or read on to learn about videoconferencing’s role in a productive UC system.