Unicomm > 2021 > September

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 or complete our Contact Us form here.

Related articles

Mitel MiCloud Connect 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 Connect, 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.

New call-to-action

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 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
  • 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 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 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 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.

A cost-effective solution

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. And there’s a high chance that the price you pay will be cheaper than the equivalent services sourced through Teams.

MiCloud Connect 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 Connect into one complete telephony, communications and collaboration solution, enhancing Teams functionality with MiCloud Connect’s excellent calling and contact centre features.

Not only is that possible, it’s easy. Mitel has designed MiCloud Connect 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 Connect 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 Connect for Microsoft Teams integration is available with all MiCloud Connect service plans, with no additional monthly charge. Nor do you need to purchase additional Teams licenses.

No additional monthly charges or additional Teams license!

And for small businesses who are fearful of the complexities of integrating separate systems, integrating Teams with MiCloud Connect is simplicity itself. Just access the MiCloud Connect admin portal and select “Activate Add-On Feature.” A quick video will pop up to walk you through the rest, and that’s it!

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

New call-to-action

MiCloud Connect from Unicomm – your perfect partnership

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

Alternatively, if you don’t have Teams, MiCloud Connect 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 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.

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

Related articles