Since the turn of the century, digital technologies have become irreplaceable sources of productivity and growth for most companies around the world. And while many IT experts have been hyper-focused on artificial intelligence tools and data analytics, the impact that unified communication strategies have had on modern workplaces cannot be overstated. For example, today’s call center environments are almost entirely structured around telephony software that allows employees to send and receive calls from their computers. This not only reduces the need for outdated hardware, but it also enables real-time communication between internal and external stakeholders, strengthens decision-making, and improves workflow efficiency.
Although the benefits of unified communications technology in the workplace have helped companies streamline their operations, successfully deploying UC solutions requires considerable investment and planning. Organizations now rely heavily on tech specialists who understand how to seamlessly integrate new platforms into existing system and network infrastructures, which has created a variety of career possibilities for job seekers with the right combination of knowledge, experience, and technical expertise. To capitalize on these opportunities, many students and mid-career professionals seek advanced degrees that provide high-level education concerning IT-focused business practices, such as a Master of Science in Management Information Systems. But the first step to transitioning into a full-time role that involves UC solution management is to learn about how technology has improved business communication.
What is unified communications?
First, it’s important to note that “unified communications” can refer to both the concept of integrated information exchange and the technologies that enable it. This overlap can be a point of confusion for individuals learning about UC solutions for the first time, as the line between tech innovation and user development has grown increasingly blurred. The main goal of unified communication strategies is to improve the flow of information by providing users with a centralized management platform. This approach helps to minimize downtime by consolidating several disparate communication methods into a single point of contact, including:
- Instant messaging and email
- Voice over IP
- Audio and video conferencing
- Voicemail, SMS, and fax
- Screen sharing
In the past, employees had to monitor a variety of isolated communication channels as a function of their daily responsibilities. This has often made real-time collaboration difficult, especially for those who worked remotely. Deploying UC solutions solves this efficiency issue by giving users the ability to access all their work-related information from any authorized device. As a result, many organizations have been able to optimize their processes and offer workers more work-from-home opportunities. However, since UC technologies are in a constant state of evolution, business leaders have had to remain proactive about their communication models to reduce downtime, automate tedious workflows, and eliminate device and media dependencies.
3 benefits of unified communications technology in the workplace
While UC solutions are most often deployed to improve the accessibility of business data and support enhanced communication, the technology also provides noteworthy ancillary benefits. For example, most unified platforms include a status feature that allows employees to check whether a co-worker is active and when they were last online. This often enables a quicker response, especially in emergency situations, and may reduce the time employees spend waiting for a reply. Some of the other benefits of unified communications technology in the workplace include:
- Reducing operating costs: According to research from The Holmes Report, communication barriers can cost organizations an average of $62.4 million per year in lost productivity. Although unified communication technologies cannot completely mitigate human latency, they can encourage more active collaboration on time-sensitive projects. UC solutions can also eliminate a variety of hardware expenses — such as desk phones, company-owned laptops, etc. — as they allow employees to use their personal devices for work-related tasks.
- Increasing customization: UC solutions accommodate a wider range of communication styles by giving employees more control over their work environments. For example, individuals are often able to customize their user interface, access voicemails through their email, set up multi-channel away messages, and answer business calls while traveling. This increased flexibility is essential for keeping projects on schedule, managing client relationships, and maintaining a productive mindset when working remotely.
- Eliminating organizational silos: The success of any commercial business hinges on the active collaboration of employees from different departments, which can be difficult to facilitate if the proper communication channels aren’t in place. For example, marketing professionals rely on detailed product information from research and development teams to design engaging advertising materials. By adopting a unified communication model, organizations can promote a team-oriented environment and remove inefficiencies that could impact the quality of their products and services.
How an MS in MIS can help you implement UC solutions
The master’s degree in management information systems online program from the University of Alabama at Birmingham offers students and mid-career professionals the technical knowledge and IT decision-making skills they need to successfully integrate cutting-edge UC solutions.
The MS in MIS degree features a specialized concentration in IT Management that bridges the gap between technology and business, providing individuals with comprehensive instruction on a diverse range of key topics, including systems analysis, technology planning and budgeting, IT governance and management, and more. These learning opportunities can help you develop a greater understanding of how technology has improved business communication and transformed modern workplaces into the fast-paced digital environments we know today.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career that involves unified communications technologies, reach out to an enrollment advisor for more information.