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01 Mar 2010

In this day and age productivity, staff retention and job satisfaction are becoming increasingly important factors for businesses. Technology is continually being developed to help improve and optimise these things – in particular, ways of communicating and keeping track of everyone in an organisation, and streamlining and automating processes. Business communications have become increasingly complex, and employees often have to manage multiple devices, applications and face-to-face interactions in order to stay connected with colleagues. They can also have multiple contact details, work in different countries or constantly be on the road. This makes contacting people very difficult, and can result in leaving the same message multiple times through different channels. Unified communications can help reduce the confusion and double-ups by providing employees with an overview of all communications and the ‘status’ of everyone else in the organisation – essentially one system for all communications. Communications experiences can be managed simply through a single interface connecting all voice, data and video communication, streamlining how people communicate with each other, allowing for an increase in productivity. A 2007 Forrester survey to examine the total economic impact and potential return on investment (ROI) seen from deploying unified communication products found that the main benefits were productivity improvements, travel cost savings and a reduction in the amount of time taken to complete projects. The risk-adjusted ROI was found to be an average of 563 percent.* The real value of unified communications is through having access to the right people and resources required to get the job done properly. It allows for easier, direct collaboration between co-workers, even if they are not located in the same office. It can transform business interactions and give employees a simpler, more effective experience, improving productivity and worker satisfaction, and therefore reducing turnover. ‘Presence’ is the most user-friendly, and some say most important, feature of unified communications systems, allowing people within the network to see colleague availability in real time. By choosing your availability, other staff can take the appropriate action, enabling effective communication and saving time. Additional cost and time savings are seen with the web and video conferencing and instant messaging capabilities.  Intergen undertakes implementations, product demonstrations and strategic consultations for customers, and has found that the phenomenal value proposition of unified communications becomes clear very quickly for staff. "Through the use of unified communications, people can create multiple avenues to optimise workflows within an organisation, and by implementing and successfully integrating the correct software they can do more with the existing infrastructure, without investing in overlapping technologies. The reach of collaboration can be extended to other organisations and clients through the use of federation or web chat components on their website," says David Porta, Intergen’s Business Line Lead – Unified Communications. "The feedback we receive is that all of this value translates to greater job satisfaction for staff which, in turn, boosts staff morale and enhances productivity." Overall, unified communications solutions allow for greater workforce productivity by reducing the amount of time spent trying to get hold of each other and streamlining communications processes. Team effectiveness is boosted through improved collaboration, integrating calendaring, email, web conferencing, team rooms and instant messaging with communication tools. Improved productivity is a key factor for businesses, and unified communications can help reduce distractions and allow employees to plan and prioritise their day, so they can focus on more important tasks. Businesses need to take advantage of these tools to stay competitive and improve the productivity of their workforce.