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Your Comprehensive Guide to Unified Communications

A Unified Communications (UC) solution is a superpowered, future-proof version of your run-of-the-mill business phone system. It takes business telephony, and makes it much, much better.

Put simply, it does that by combining a wealth of powerful communication tools in one simple, cost-effective package, making them work as one through your internet connection.

Most importantly, UC offers feature-rich IP telephony, often including nifty complementary services like voicemail to email, call routing and more. That’s all pretty standard with good UC.

And then it adds in all the other contact and collaboration tools modern businesses increasingly need. Video calling, conferencing, Instant Messaging (IM), group chart, email, presence and screen share are all common features of a powerful UC solution.

Because it’s hosted in the cloud, all these UC services are accessible from anywhere, and on a range of devices. Employees can use their desktop computers, laptops, smartphones or tablets to make calls, start a group chat or be part of a video conference.

For that reason, UC is ideal for the new world of remote and semi-remote (hybrid) work. It also future-proofs businesses for the upcoming PSTN and ISDN switch off, while equipping them with the communication and collaboration tools they need to for more efficient operation and better customer service.

Through this article, we’ll guide you through the benefits of UC for your business, including answers to the following questions:

Now, let’s get started with how, exactly, it works.

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What is Unified Communications?

At its most basic, UC is a form of all-IP communications, which means it routes your calls through your internet connection.

That’s a good thing, because with the PSTN and ISDN being turned off for good in 2025, everyone will have to move to this internet-based telephony sooner or later.

In essence, it works by turning voice messages into digital data, just like internet traffic. And just like internet traffic, that means calls can be made from any internet-enabled device, whether that’s a computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. Softphone apps simply turn your telephony into a software service.

This IP-telephony has a number of big advantages over traditional phone calls. For a start, you can make or take calls anywhere. You can also scale your service in seconds, adding or removing users in a couple of mouse clicks.

There are lots of other benefits, and we’ll come to them later in this article. But one potential issue with UC, especially when you’re making video calls and conferencing as well as traditional phone calls, is internet bandwidth.

When you move to IP-telephony and especially UC, you add considerably to your internet traffic. With that in mind, you need to make sure you have the bandwidth to match your ambitions.

That shouldn’t be a problem though, and any good UC provider will advise you on the connectivity you need to run both your UC solution and all other connected services without stoppages or slowdowns.

The Benefits of Unified Communications

You might describe UC as IP telephony with all the trimmings. It combines voice, video, conferencing, chat and more in one very handy package.

Why is that beneficial? Well, for a start, it stops you having to invest in and maintain a number of separate services. Putting everything in one service is both more cost effective and makes your supplier management much simpler.

UC brings significant benefits to your internal communications. With remote and hybrid work becoming standard practice, the ease with which dispersed teams can communicate and collaborate becomes a business-critical issue.

It has similarly impressive benefits for your external communications. And at the heart of any UC solution is business-grade VoIP telephony. That means your employees can make and take professional business calls wherever they happen to be – in the office, at home or on the road. The same telephone number goes with them, so clients and colleagues always know who’s calling, and which number to call and you’ll never miss an important business call again.

A good UC solution can even include contact centre services, like wallboards, IVRs and in-depth reporting capabilities. In other words, UC merges a host of communication features into one service, promoting cost-savings, employee efficiency and enhanced customer service.

Unified Communication offers a range of major benefits for business, whether employees are working remotely or not:

  • Productivity – Cloud collaboration helps teams work faster, and more efficiently. And with everything stored in the cloud, team members can get hold of the materials they need at any time, wherever they are.
  • Simplicity – Cloud collaboration creates one version of the truth. Instead of long email trails with a new attachment for every amendment, cloud collaboration simply presents your team with the latest version of a document, fully synced and up to date.
  • Participation – Because all employees have the same access to projects, everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute. Those less vocal members of the team can easily add suggestions or show what a change might look like without having to explain it.
  • Communication and collaboration – Cloud collaboration lets your dispersed team share files and documents, and edit them almost instantly, and then talk them through, using audio and video conferencing, group chat and IM.
  • Security – Because your documents and projects are stored in the cloud, rather than on someone’s computer, it’s more secure. In most cases, it will be saved more than once, in different locations, which supports your business’ continuity planning.
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Microsoft Teams: What’s Missing?

Don’t get us wrong, Microsoft Teams is a powerful tool for internal communications and collaboration.

For many SMEs during the pandemic, Teams gave businesses the video calling and messaging services they needed to stay connected. As we move into the post-lockdown world, Teams has quickly become a ubiquitous business tool.

But is Teams enough on its own? Many businesses think not. In this section, we’ll explain why combining Teams with Mitel MiCloud Connect, a simple cloud communications, collaboration and contact centre phone system, is ideal for SMEs adapting to the current climate.

Video calling, instant messaging and presence are available in every version, even the one you can download for free.

Paying for Teams gives you access to Office 365 web apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more), and cloud storage with OneDrive. And as far as security goes, even the free version of Teams will encrypt your data, turning it into code which is near impossible to hack.

While the free version of Teams offers nothing in terms of visibility and reporting, paid versions include some basic ways to measure and monitor the productivity of staff.

When you put it all together, Teams is a great product, but it’s not great at everything. Most significantly, many SMEs find it a poor and cost-prohibitive option for external calling. Teams was originally designed for internal collaboration, and it shows.

It’s possible to call traditional phone numbers with Teams, but not with the free version.

Even with the paid for versions, you have to add a call plan to make external calls, at considerable extra expense. Many SMEs enquire about adding external calls to Teams and are put off by soaring costs and lengthy contracts.

With lots of different Teams’ options, calculating what you’re paying for and how much your monthly bill will be, can be complex.

At the same time, security is basic rather than premium, and reporting and integrations are limited. This is a particular issue when you want to maintain productivity levels among remote staff, and ensure customers are always receiving the prompt and efficient service they demand.

None of this is to damn Microsoft Teams. It’s simply to say that Teams cannot on its own meet most small businesses’ communications challenges.

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MiCloud Connect: Filling the gaps in Teams

To compensate for Teams’ limitations, many SMEs use a traditional phone system for external calls. But ISDN-based telephony tends to offer only basic functionality. It also isolates external communications from the rest of your systems, which means you miss out on a range of efficiency and productivity benefits.

Instead, the perfect partner to Teams is MiCloud Connect from Mitel, one of the world’s leading telephony providers.

MiCloud Connect is a powerful and – at the same time – easy to use cloud telephony system which allows you to make and take professional business calls anywhere, on a handset or via smartphone, laptop or tablet. It comes with a range of call management features as standard, including:

  • Voicemail – accessed with a single click, with the option to have messages transcribed and sent to email
  • Call recording – record calls on demand for compliance purposes or staff training
  • Phone routing – route calls to your preferred device, whether desk phone, softphone, mobile or personal number

MiCloud Connect is also a sophisticated collaboration tool, offering:

  • Conferencing – audio and video conferencing with screen sharing, agenda tracker and single-click joining
  • Presence – route calls by presence, so colleagues always know when you’re available, when you’re away, and when you’re busy with other tasks
  • File sharing – speedy up and downloads helps version control and file management

And unlike Teams (and other cloud telephony solutions) MiCloud Connect can be your complete contact centre solution, too, with wallboards, IVRs and in-depth reporting capabilities as standard, along with:

  • Real-time changes – add or remove users, edit groups, manage your team and assess performance, all in real time
  • Easy to use – a seamless and simple experience across devices and features means that only minimal training is required
  • SIP Trunking – expansive trunking capabilities including Caller ID, DIDs, tandem trunking and trunk groups

MiCloud Connect is built on Google Cloud, providing industry-leading security and reliability. In addition, Mitel’s management portal allows you to restrict permissions and add multiple layers of authentication with a couple of clicks. It’s some way ahead of Microsoft Teams in terms of security and reliability.

It’s also better at connecting your services together. MiCloud Connect’s range of rich
contact centre, CTM and CRM integration options lets your systems speak to each other, making an excellent solution even better.

Perhaps most importantly for cash-strapped SMEs, MiCloud Connect provides the kind of financial predictability small business budgeting requires. It offers one standard price for everything you need.

Finally, there’s a high chance that the price you pay will be cheaper than the equivalent services sourced through Teams. So all told, there’s certainly more reasons to choose MiCloud Connect than there are Teams, because every Teams benefit is also a MiCloud Connect benefit too!


Why choose Unicomm?

As we’ve discussed, the perfect answer to the questions of future-proofing your communications is to combine Teams and MiCloud Connect. One complete telephony, communications and collaboration solution that enhances Teams functionality with MiCloud Connect’s excellent calling and contact centre features.

But getting to the point of deploying and using MiCloud Connect is another challenge that businesses recovering from the pandemic just don’t have time to overcome. But don’t worry, that’s where we come in!

Unicomm is your perfect telephony partner. We’ll expertly manage your MiCloud Connect service, handling the provisioning, maintaining and upgrading of all software and hardware so you don’t have to. At the same time, our pay-as-you-grow pricing model means you only ever pay for the capacity you actually use.

And if you want to integrate MiCloud Connect and Microsoft Teams, we’ll make sure the solution you end up with perfectly meets your needs and budget.

We’re the right partner because we live and breathe unified communications. Our management team has over 70 years of collective experience in the telecoms industry. Every solution we deploy is fully supported by a comprehensive and bespoke support and maintenance contract that guarantees long and productive service for your IT infrastructure.

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What Can Unified Communications Merge?

For many years small businesses relied on two key communications technologies: phone calls and email.

These were generally stand alone services provided by two different suppliers and serving two separate purposes. When new communications technologies like IM, group chat, conferencing and video started to emerge, many smaller businesses didn’t see the need.

To some extent, the pandemic changed all that. Video calling software was a growing market before Covid, but the pandemic gave it wings. Dispersed employees started to use IM and group chat to communicate more efficiently and informally with colleagues. Conferencing replaced face-to-face meetings. New tools were bolted on to traditional telephony solutions to facilitate these new ways of working.

With remote and hybrid work here to stay, and at least some client contacts likely to remain virtual for the foreseeable future, many businesses are replacing this ad hoc collection of tools and apps with dedicated unified communications (UC) solutions.

UC gathers a range of communications and collaboration tools in one package, and gets them to work together. In the rest of this article we’ll find out why that’s a huge step forward for business communications, and potentially as beneficial for small organisations as it is for large enterprises.

The benefits to internal communications

With remote and hybrid work becoming standard practice, the ease with which dispersed teams can communicate and collaborate becomes a business critical issue.

So most importantly, UC gathers your communication tools together in one place, putting audio and video calls, conferencing, chat, IM and email within easy reach of every employee.

That means colleagues can communicate with each other in the way that suits them best, and the way that’s most appropriate in any situation.

For example, more formal meetings can take place via video, whereas a quick question can be asked with a simple instant message. Group chat can happen alongside voice and video conferencing, so that each participant can share relevant documents, add more detail or ask questions without constant interruptions.

It all helps smooth the flow of internal communications, especially when your teams work remotely or semi-remotely. When colleagues can communicate easily, they’ll feel less isolated and more integrated into company culture, even when they’re working from their back bedrooms.

And another major benefit of UC is that good solutions also include tools that aid collaboration. For example, colleagues on a video call can share screens so they’re all seeing the same thing. A Presence feature shows which colleagues are available and which are busy. File sharing lets dispersed teams work on the same document at the same time, creating one version of the truth.

The benefits to external communications

As we’ve seen, UC is a benefit to internal communications, especially at a time when some colleagues might be working remotely. It brings a range of powerful features together in one handy package.

And at the heart of any UC solution is business-grade VoIP telephony. That means your employees can make and take professional business calls wherever they happen to be – in the office, at home or on the road. The same telephone number goes with them, so clients and colleagues always know who’s calling, and which number to call.

With some UC packages, powerful call management features are merged with the solution. For example, some come with single click voicemail, voicemail to email, on demand call recording and seamless call routing.

This latter benefit means that calls can easily be transferred to a preferred device. So if you’re away from your desk, you can divert calls from your computer or handset to your mobile phone. That’s the other great thing about hosted UC. It can be accessed from a dedicated handset, or from a softphone on computer, laptop, smartphone and tablet. You never need to miss an important business call again.

In addition, good UC solutions can even add contact centre functionality to your communications infrastructure, saving you considerable sums of money on standalone contact centre software.

That functionality can include integrated call centre services like wallboards, IVRs and in-depth reporting capabilities. You can create hunt groups, add and remove users and assess performance in real time. Expansive trunking capabilities including Caller ID, DIDs, tandem trunking and trunk groups.

The benefits to your bottom line

As we’ve seen, UC makes your internal and external communications smoother and more seamless, with obvious benefits in terms of productivity, efficiency and customer service.

It also has a direct influence on your bottom line. UC solutions often come as per-user-per-month subscriber services, which means you never pay for more capacity than you actually use. In addition, they scale up and down easily to meet the changing demands of your business.

And by merging a wide range of communications and collaboration services in one, UC reduces costs associated with sourcing, managing and maintaining each of those services separately. Putting everything in one package works for your finances and your IT and admin staff, who only have to deal with one invoice and one helpline, saving time and simplifying day-to-day operations.

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Cloud Collaboration – what’s the big deal?

Collaboration is fundamental to the success of business. When teams work together, problems are solved more quickly and new ideas are generated that help to make businesses better.

Research underlines the importance of collaboration. One survey found that 86% of respondents believed a lack of collaboration had caused the failure of projects they had worked on. Another revealed that nearly 40% of employees didn’t feel there was enough collaboration in their workplaces.

Collaboration is so central to business that for years it stopped many organisations fully embracing flexible working. They understood the benefits of letting employees work from home some of the time, avoiding the grind of a daily commute and helping them to achieve better work/life balance. But they also wondered how collaboration would be achieved when teams were rarely together in the same physical space.

The pandemic forced a change of thinking. When Covid struck, many employees transitioned to home working almost overnight. Organisations had to learn to collaborate virtually, or suffer the consequences.

None of that is going away. We’re entering a new age of work, with flexible hours as standard and remote and hybrid working becoming the norm in many sectors and businesses. During the pandemic, many organisations bolted a video conferencing app onto their standard communications services and hoped that was enough. As we transition to permanent flexible working, the adoption of more rounded and full-featured collaboration tools is becoming increasingly necessary.

What is cloud collaboration?

The tool most businesses are adopting is cloud collaboration.

To put it simply, cloud collaboration is a way for colleagues to see, comment on and edit the same documents at the same time, making changes in real time.

You might see it as the equivalent of two or three colleagues gathered round the same screen in the office, making suggestions on ways to make it better that can be discussed, amended and actioned instantly.

With cloud collaboration, everyone has access to the same documents wherever they are, even if they’re in different locations and on different devices.

For example, one employee, sitting at his desk in the office, uses group chat to ask for advice on the layout of an important client report. A colleague, working from his back bedroom at home, adds an image to the title screen that brings the report to life. A third, on the train to a meeting, is viewing this activity on a smartphone and suggests a line of text to accompany the image.

Whatever the document, edits are visible to everyone, and all changes are synced and saved instantly, so that colleagues are always working on the latest, most up-to-date version.

In this way, cloud collaboration allows teams to work together even when they’re physically far apart. It’s a technology that is helping to drive the new enthusiasm for remote and hybrid working.

The benefits of cloud collaboration

Cloud collaboration has a range of major benefits for business, whether employees are working remotely or not.

  • Productivity – Cloud collaboration helps teams work faster, and more efficiently. When everyone involved in a project can see the same document, suggest changes and edit in real time, it speeds up the creative process and makes approval easy.

    And with everything stored in the cloud, team members can get hold of the materials they need at any time, wherever they are. Sometimes inspiration hits at the most unlikely times. Colleagues who are struck by a creative thunderbolt can act on it instantly, regardless of location, time or device.
  • Simplicity – Cloud collaboration creates one version of the truth. Instead of long email trails with a new attachment for every amendment and addition, cloud collaboration simply presents your team with the latest version of a document, fully synced and up to date. There’s never any need to email updated versions of documents to relevant colleagues. Updating is automatic. An alert can be sent to every participant whenever a change is made, so nobody ever feels out of the loop.
  • Participation – Because all employees have the same access to projects, everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute. In fact, this might be more true with cloud collaboration than with traditional teamwork that happens in the same space, when loud voices and big personalities tend to dominate. With cloud collaboration, those less vocal or demonstrative members of the team can easily add suggestions to group chat or show what a change might look like on the screen without having to explain it.
  • Communication and collaboration – Collaboration isn’t just about making real-time changes. Communication is vital, allowing your team to talk through problems, find creative solutions and put its hive mind to good use. Cloud collaboration lets your dispersed team share files and documents and then talk them through, using audio and video conferencing, group chat and IM.
  • Security – Because your documents and projects are stored in the cloud, rather than on someone’s computer, it’s more secure. Most cloud tools save automatically whenever a change is made. Conversations can be recorded. All this data is stored in a secure data centre that will be far less vulnerable to floods, fire, damage and theft than the average small business office. In most cases, it will be saved more than once, in different locations. Cloud collaboration tools are increasingly part of many organisations’ business continuity planning.

Tools for the job

There are various types of tools that help facilitate cloud collaboration.

Document storage tools like Google Docs and Dropbox let you safely store and retrieve work, with everyone synced to the latest version. Meanwhile, productivity tools like G-Suite and Office 365 let colleagues work on documents in the cloud and, if necessary, at the same time.

Then there are project management tools like Trello, Asana and Basecamp, which allow managers to keep control of projects, monitoring progress and ensuring deadlines are always met.

Finally, there are communication-based tools that allow for virtual meetings, one-to-one chats, conferencing, file sharing and screen sharing, letting colleagues collaborate in real time, wherever they are, in the way that works best for them. Microsoft Teams, Skype and Google Hangouts are obvious examples.

And the great thing is that MiCloud Flex can store your documents, just like G-Suite. It can help keep your team to their deadlines, just like Asana, and it can bring your staff and customers closer together with all the video/audio calling and Instant Messaging features you’re used to across Teams and Zoom. MiCloud Flex can do it all… and more!


Cloud collaboration is the new normal

The main takeaway from all this is that cloud collaboration is the new normal for many businesses, so you need to get it right.

Mobile and remote working means teams are increasingly dispersed, but they still need to work together for the benefit of your business. A range of cloud-based tools have emerged to make that easier and more efficient. Teamwork is no longer reliant on physical proximity.

That has lots of advantages, because cloud collaboration promotes creativity, encourages participation and simplifies the collaboration process. But you do need the right tools for the job. A bolted on video calling app is no longer enough as remote work becomes a permanent fixture of corporate life.

Cloud collaboration is increasingly vital for the smooth running of dispersed organisations. If you’d like to know more from Unicomm, please get in touch.

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How does Unified Communication actually work?

Even before the pandemic forced businesses to pull together stop-gap solutions, Unified Communications was an innovative technology that many businesses were looking to adopt.

The pandemic has accelerated the transition into remote working and communication solutions are no longer refined to a desk phone, or computer screen.

New technologies such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) have enabled businesses to route calls through their internet connections, with an offshoot – Unified Communications (UC) – providing the extra features such as collaboration and instant messaging, so that employees can collaborate company-wide, and work just as efficiently from wherever they are.

Rather than using deskphones, your team can use their UC solution across mobiles, tablets, laptops or desktops instead, or a traditional deskphone if they really want! And thankfully, the numbers that your customers call, and your commercial partners already have saved, won’t have to change. But with all these new features, some things will change.

But what does Unified Communications actually mean and how does it change the way your business operates? Well, keep on reading and you’ll be sure to find out!

How Unified Communication works

There are several terms for Unified Communications. Sometimes it’s called internet calling, or VoIP or Hosted Telephony, or one of many other phrases. Depending on the exact term, they’re not always exactly interchangeable, but suffice it to say moving to Unified Communications is exactly what you need to future-proof your business.

That’s because the landlines that have kept businesses and people connected for the last few decades, through the PSTN or ‘Public Switched Telephone Network’ is being turned off for good in 2025. Therefore, everyone will have to move to an internet-based telephony service before then, or phone lines may simply stop ringing all together!

In essence, UC works by routing your calls through your internet connection.

The ones and zeros that your microphone translates your voice into, travels through your internet connection to a central, cloud-based server where it’s redirected to the person on the other end of the line. So, it’s really not that different to what happens right now… just over a different ‘pipe’, so to speak.

Though, this somewhat drastic change does bring with it many questions – What about security? Do I need anti-virus? What happens during a power outage? – but the everyday experience for your teams won’t change that much at all.

What changes?

Rather than using deskphones, your team can use their UC solution across mobiles, tablets, laptops or desktops instead, or a traditional deskphone if they really want! And thankfully, the numbers that your customers call, and your commercial partners already have saved, won’t have to change. But with all these new features, some things will…

  • Taking calls – Your team will no longer be tied down to their desk, or rely on giving their personal mobile details to take business calls. Whether in the office, at home or on the go, each employee can take calls on the device they’ve got, meaning they’ll never miss a call!
  • Paying your bills – You’ll receive one simple bill that covers all your lines and the included call bundles for each line. And, with the ability to block international calls or premium rate numbers for example, you can forget the days of abnormally large bills derailing your budget!
  • Scaling your services – With an easy-to-use portal, you can quickly add lines for new members of staff, or remove lines that are no longer in use. You can even set-up call queues and hunt groups as complex as required, ensuring every call gets to the department it needs to.

What stays the same?

Even though you’re adopting a new system, the operational transition isn’t as drastic as you might think…

  • Oversight – Even when members of your team aren’t in the office, you can still check on their productivity through robust reporting tools that include stats such as call volume, call length and many more, so you can identify staff who need extra support.
  • Experience – We can help replicate your entire customer journey, including voice messages, on-hold music, hunt groups and IVRs to protect the customer experience and make sure callers don’t think they’ve dialled a wrong number.
  • Services – Whether it’s call recording, compatibility with your current CRM system or another feature that your team can’t live without, we can make sure that your staff can still take advantage of the tools they’re used to using – or at least find a new service that replicates the functionality.

Starting your journey with Unified Communications

The most important consideration before you start on your journey to embracing Unified Communications is your internet connection. With significantly more voice traffic traveling along your service, broadband connections can quickly become bottlenecked, leading to bad-quality audio, slow loading times or even dropped calls.

And as your businesses grows and you require more lines for your new staff, that added pressure will increase. All this means you need to make sure your internet connection is just as scalable as your UC solution!

With decades of experience in designing, deploying and supporting our Unified Communications customers, we can recommend the best platform for you, along with all the smaller considerations – failovers, headsets, security – to make sure your new solution helps your business rather than hindering it. Plus, we can make sure your connection can grow with your business, or provide a connection that can, if required.

Then, once a plan is in place, we’ll trial and test the solution to make sure there are no bugs, and deploy the system at the best time to minimise downtime and keep your phone lines calling when they should be.

If your team needs training, we can help and even after we’ve finished your installation, we’ll always be one phone call away for any ‘how-to’ questions, or any other issues that stop your team from working to their full potential. Plus, we’ll keep one eye on your UC solution to make sure there’s no strange behaviour, perform regular maintenance as well as any updates, so your communications platform is always up-to-date and secure.


Moving any business system can be daunting, especially when it’s as business critical as your entire communications platform! And finding the right partner to help lead you to a brighter, more productive tomorrow is a necessity.

We know Unified Communications inside out – it’s in our name after all – so you can rest assured that working with Unicomm is the right step forward. Plus, our vendor-agnostic approach means we’ll recommend the best system for you, rather than what provides the best commission.

Our knowledge, expertise and vast industry experience means we can quickly understand your needs and guide you to the best, most cost-effective solution. And every deployment is fully supported by a comprehensive and bespoke support and maintenance contract that guarantees that your IT infrastructure works seamlessly for years to come.

No matter your needs, Unicomm will understand and exceed your requirements, while helping you navigate such broad choice and change. So, get in touch on (020) 7147 7000, email sales@unicomm.co.uk or complete our Contact Us form here.

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Mitel MiCloud Flex and Microsoft Teams: A Comparison

Tens of thousands of small businesses switched to remote working during the pandemic, relying on new technology to connect their colleagues and customers.

Many of those businesses – perhaps even the majority – will never go back to the way things were before Covid struck. Remote working, often in “hybrid” (part time) form, is here to stay.

What that means is that the technological “sticking plasters” businesses adopted during the pandemic will need to transition into permanent communications and collaboration solutions.

For many SMEs, that means Microsoft Teams. During the pandemic, Teams gave smaller businesses the video calling and messaging services they needed to survive. As we move into the post-lockdown world, Teams has become a ubiquitous business tool.

But is Teams enough on its own? Many businesses think not. In the rest of this article we’ll explain why combining Teams with Mitel MiCloud Flex, a simple cloud communications, collaboration and contact centre phone system, is ideal for SMEs adapting to the current climate.

First, let’s take a closer look at the two systems.

Microsoft Teams – a great tool for internal comms

Microsoft Teams is a powerful tool for internal communications and collaboration. Video calling, instant messaging and presence are available in every version, even the one you can download for free.

Paying for Teams gives you access to Office 365 web apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more), and cloud storage with OneDrive. Pay a little more and you can take those Office applications offline and work on documents and projects even when you don’t have an internet connection.

Paying also hugely increases the maximum length of video calls, which is set at just 60 minutes in the free version.

As far as security goes, the free version of Teams will encrypt your data, turning it into code which is near impossible to hack. Paid for versions ad multi-factor authentication and Single Sign On across multiple devices.

While the free version of Teams offers nothing in terms of visibility and reporting, paid versions include some basic ways to measure and monitor the productivity of staff. Teams also allows some basic integrations with other apps and services, but these can be limited and clunky.

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Microsoft Teams – what’s missing?

When you put it all together, Teams is a great product, but it’s not great at everything. Most significantly, many SMEs find it a poor and cost-prohibitive option for external calling. Teams was originally designed for internal collaboration, and it shows.

It’s possible to call traditional phone numbers with Teams, but not with the free version. Even with the paid for versions, you have to add a call plan to make external calls, at considerable extra expense. Many SMEs enquire about adding external calls to Teams and are put off by soaring costs and lengthy contracts.

With lots of different Teams’ options, calculating what you’re paying for and how much your monthly bill will be can be complex.

At the same time, security is basic rather than premium, and reporting and integrations are limited. This is a particular issue when you want to maintain productivity levels among remote staff, and ensure customers are always receiving the prompt and efficient service they demand.

None of this is to damn Microsoft Teams. It’s simply to say that Teams cannot on its own meet most small businesses’ communications challenges.

Mitel MiCloud Flex – filling the gaps in Teams

To compensate for Teams’ limitations, many SMEs use a traditional phone system for external calls. But ISDN-based telephony tends to offer only basic functionality. It also isolates external communications from the rest of your systems, which means you miss out on a range of efficiency and productivity benefits.

Instead, the perfect partner to Teams is MiCloud Flex from Mitel, one of the world’s leading telephony providers.

MiCloud Flex is a powerful and – at the same time – easy to use cloud telephony system which allows you to make and take professional business calls anywhere, on a handset or via smartphone, laptop or tablet. It comes with a range of call management features as standard, including:

  • Voicemail – accessed with a single click, with the option to have messages transcribed and sent to email
  • Call recording – record calls on demand for compliance purposes or staff training
  • Phone routing – route calls to your preferred device, whether desk phone, softphone, mobile or personal number

MiCloud Flex is also a sophisticated collaboration tool, offering:

  • Conferencing – audio and video conferencing with screen sharing, agenda tracker and single-click joining
  • Presenceroute calls by presence, so colleagues always know when you’re available, when you’re away, and when you’re busy with other tasks
  • File sharingspeedy up- and downloads helps version control and file management

And unlike Teams (and other cloud telephony solutions) MiCloud Flex can be your complete contact centre solution, too, with wallboards, IVRs and in-depth reporting capabilities as standard, along with:

  • Real-time changes – add or remove users, edit groups, manage your team and assess performance, all in real time
  • Easy to usea seamless and simple experience across devices and features means that only minimal training is required
  • SIP Trunkingexpansive trunking capabilities including Caller ID, DIDs, tandem trunking and trunk groups

Secure and seamlessly integrated

MiCloud Flex is built on Google Cloud, providing industry-leading security and reliability. In addition, Mitel’s management portal allows you to restrict permissions and add multiple layers of authentication with a couple of clicks. It’s some way ahead of Microsoft Teams in terms of security and reliability.

It’s also better at connecting your services together. MiCloud Flex’s range of rich contact centre, CTM and CRM integration options lets your systems speak to each other, making an excellent solution even better.

A cost-effective solution

Perhaps most importantly for cash-strapped SMEs, MiCloud Flex provides the kind of financial predictability small business budgeting requires. It offers one standard price for everything you need. And there’s a high chance that the price you pay will be cheaper than the equivalent services sourced through Teams.

MiCloud Flex and Teams – the perfect solution?

At the same time, we understand that many SMEs have got used to using Teams through the pandemic, and don’t want to ditch a solution that staff have become comfortable using.

The perfect answer is to combine Teams and MiCloud Flex into one complete telephony, communications and collaboration solution, enhancing Teams functionality with MiCloud Flex’s excellent calling and contact centre features.

Not only is that possible, it’s easy. Mitel has designed MiCloud Flex to integrate seamlessly with Teams, bringing all the tools you need together in one handy package.

Integrates seamlessly with Teams, bringing all the tools you need together in one handy package!

This allows users to stay within Teams, while giving them easy access to MiCloud Flex features and functionality. It’s the perfect marriage of two highly capable systems, creating what is, to users, a single all-encompassing solution.

It’s certainly a cost-effective way of meeting your communications needs. The MiCloud Flex for Microsoft Teams integration is available with all MiCloud Flex service plans.

And of course, when implementing MiCloud Flex and integrating it with Teams, Unicomm will be with you every step of the way.

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MiCloud Flex from Unicomm – your perfect partnership

As we’ve seen, MiCloud Flex makes Teams better, and turns an internal collaboration tool into a fully-functional business communication service.

Alternatively, if you don’t have Teams, MiCloud Flex can act as your complete communications and collaboration solution on its own.

Whichever you choose, Unicomm is your perfect telephony partner. We’ll expertly manage your MiCloud Flex service, handling the provisioning, maintaining and upgrading of all software and hardware so you don’t have to. At the same time, our pay-as-you-grow pricing model means you only ever pay for the capacity you actually use.

And if you want to integrate MiCloud Flex and Microsoft Teams, we’ll make sure the solution you end up with perfectly meets your needs and budget.

We’re the right partner because we live and breathe unified communications. Our management team has over 70 years of collective experience in the telecoms industry. Every solution we deploy is fully supported by a comprehensive and bespoke support and maintenance contract that guarantees long and productive service for your IT infrastructure.

If you’d like to know more about MiCloud Flex from Unicomm, and how it compares with Microsoft Teams, please get in touch.

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