Telecommuting or working remotely is no longer just a perk or a privilege. For many businesses, it has become the norm. In fact, according to a recent Gallup report called 'The State of the American Workplace', more American employees now work remotely and do so for longer periods. To power today’s increasingly distributed and remote workforce, organizations are embracing cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) solutions. Unified Communications solutions bring together real-time communications services (such as voice, video, messaging, and web conferencing) into a single, unified platform, making it easier than ever for businesses, coworkers, partners, and customers to stay in touch.
In this article, Kevin McMahon, Director of Global Marketing at West’s Unified Communication Services, offers tips on how businesses can choose the right UC solution and discusses with VoipReview.org how West is empowering today’s modern, remote workforce with their UC and managed voice offerings.
Bridging the Gaps Between People with the Right UC Solution
Bringing UC into a business (especially for those companies that employ a remote workforce) enables companies to take advantage of a host of benefits. These include enhanced productivity and workplace collaboration, reduced travel and operational costs, more meaningful reach and interactions, and increased financial flexibility, among others. However, in order to fully unlock its benefits and truly bridge the gaps between people, it’s crucial for businesses to choose the right solution.
“The UC space has a diverse range of providers and offerings, so the task of choosing a UC provider and product can feel overwhelming,” McMahon said. “To alleviate some of this stress, take a look at your company and assess your communication needs.” According to McMahon, there are several questions a business must evaluate their potential vendors on:
- Does their solution set fully encompass your organization’s needs?
- Is the provider financially stable, well-funded, and likely to be with you for the long-term?
- What’s their geographic span? Can the provider meet the needs of your organization on a global basis?
- What kind of network expertise do they bring to the table? Do they prioritize quality of service and a simple user experience?
- Are they “Rip and Replace” vendors or can they help you through a structured, orderly migration towards UCaaS?
In addition to industry expertise and experience, McMahon says it is also essential for businesses to consider the features included in a UC solution. And for McMahon, there are three critical features a good UC solution must have:
- Mobility - In an always-on and connected world, it’s important for employees to be able to have access to reliable enterprise communications tools whenever and wherever they need to. This is why McMahon believes mobility is one of the most important features a good UC solution should include. “UC solutions must support enterprise mobility. Employees today need to be able to access their desk phone, voicemail and collaboration tools from their desk, at home and when they’re on the go,” he emphasized.
- Scalability - Another critical feature for UC is scalability. McMahon says: “A UC solution must also provide the scalability to grow with your changing business needs. This means IT can easily add new users, new devices, and new services.”
- Network reliability - A feature-rich platform is of no use of a vendor cannot guarantee network reliability. Loss of any portion of a network means that users will suffer. Thus, businesses must go for a solution that meets the availability, reliability, and quality demands of today’s enterprises. “Beyond that, it’s important for UC solutions to improve network reliability, provide responsive service and continuous system monitoring capabilities, and offer the flexibility to integrate legacy systems,” McMahon added.
West UC Solutions for Today’s Modern, Remote Workforce
As a leading global provider of business communication and network infrastructure services, West is committed to making communication easy. Thus, to meet the demands of today’s modern workforce, West offers a comprehensive range of UC and managed voice services offerings that ensure seamless communication and a consistent user experience from anywhere, on any device.
“We offer a full range of UC solutions that include enterprise VoIP but also span instant messaging and presence, mobility solutions, audio, video and web conferencing services, unified messaging, contact centers, and webcasting,” said McMahon. “Our UC solutions can integrate into a number of our partner’s real-time collaboration apps like Cisco Jabber, Cisco Spark and Microsoft Skype for Business, as well as with our cloud contact center solutions and a variety of storage and CRM applications.”
According to McMahon, one of their most popular solutions is InterCall Unified Meeting 5, an online conferencing platform. This solution improves the meeting experience as it combines West’s HD audio conferencing solution, InterCall Reservationless-Plus with Dolby Voice, and HD video services powered by Vidyo.
West also offers InterCall MobileMeet, a free iPhone and Android app for InterCall Unified Meeting web conferencing customers. It allows users to connect with customers, prospects, partners, and colleagues with just a tap on their smartphone, regardless of location. “MobileMeet provides on-the-go users with complete call management capabilities including who’s talking on a call, enabling meeting scheduling and allowing users to invite participants to join a meeting with a text, email or a call,” explained McMahon. And for remote workers that constantly suffer from outside distractions and weaker audio connections when joining virtual meetings, West has InterCall Reservationless-Plus with Dolby Voice. This audio conferencing solution helps users experience end-to-end HD audio, alleviating any confusion or inefficiencies due to poor sound quality.
“With our hosted UCaaS and managed voice services offerings, employees can use the same collaboration tools, like instant messaging and video calling, and features, such as extension dialing and company directory, at their desk and on the road,” said McMahon. “Users can even transfer meetings and conference calls from their desk phones to their mobile phones (or vice versa) while in the call, without skipping a beat. West can also assign users one phone number that connects to any and all of their devices, improving connectivity,” he added.
Why West UC Stands Out
With so many UC offerings on the market today, what makes West UC a cut above the rest? According to McMahon, their primary advantage would be their expertise. “West has pioneered cloud-based UC solutions and has developed unparalleled expertise in deploying these solutions. From a fully cloud-based solution to hybrid approaches that allow for structured migrations over time, we provide customers with flexible solution options that best meet their needs and goals,” he said. Aside from these, McMahon also highlights the following key differentiators of their company:
- Network Expertise: In an age when UC suppliers increasingly rely on over-the-top (OTT) or broadband to deliver their solutions, West is different because of their networking expertise. Whether delivering fully managed MPLS network solutions or SD-WAN alternatives, West understands the critical interplay between application and delivery mechanisms.
- Contact Center Solutions: Nearly every business today incorporates some kind of contact center functionality into their UC stack. Providers must have ownership of their own contact center solution to ensure a deep expertise of deployment, management, and integration to maximize the value of UC overall.
- Video & meeting experiences: Sophisticated video and meeting experiences matter. West can support the full end to end experience across a wide variety of devices and platforms.
- Platform options: No two clients’ needs are identical--and yet many UCaaS providers only have a single platform from which to choose. West has taken a different approach, allowing clients to combine the best solutions for their needs into a single solution stack – combining solutions from West, Cisco, Microsoft, and others, to ensure that adoption, performance, and functionality is maximized for the entire team.
To learn more about West UC and how they are empowering today’s modern teams with their Unified Communications solutions, please visit West’s website.
About West Unified Communications Services
West is a trusted leader in hosted and cloud-based solutions, covering the four complementary components of the UC spectrum: conferencing and collaboration, managed voice, network services, and webinars and enterprise streaming. Because of their innovative solutions, West has been named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service for the past 5 consecutive years and is among the top scorers in Gartner’s evaluations of UC providers for specific use cases.