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Integrated communications extends UC capabilities

Organizations that want to drive greater value from their unified communications deployment should look to integrate communications into other parts of their business.

Integrated communications extends the value of UC capabilities, such as messaging and video conferencing, by bringing them to other business apps. This fusion of resources drives greater productivity and supports digital transformation, according to IHS Markit analyst Diane Myers.

Organizations are turning to digital transformation to improve internal and external communications, according to Brian Gilman, vice president of product marketing at Vonage. Companies want to improve day-to-day interactions within the organization and external communication with customers. Integrated communications can enable greater collaboration with the apps brought into the network.

Internally, organizations are looking to enhance employee productivity. With integrated communications, an organization can enable click-to-call capabilities within Salesforce, for example, so employees can make a call and create a record of that call within the app. Creating a streamlined communications workflow within Salesforce aids productivity and ensures records are accurate, Gilman said in a recent webinar.

For external customers, organizations need to address their expectations for communication. Most companies only provide a certain number of communication channels, but customers want to communicate in various ways.

“They’re using their phones for SMS, self-service and email,” Gilman said. “The last thing they use a phone for is making a call.”

The more innovative companies circumvent the challenges of external communication by enabling customers to talk wherever and however they want, he said.

UCaaS and APIs support integrated communications

The path to integrated communications is paved with APIs and unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) providers who offer similar capabilities.

Organizations of all sizes are adopting UCaaS to improve employee productivity and support digital transformation, Myers said. With the help of the cloud, organizations can extend UC capabilities further into their business.

Choosing the right vendor is an important factor for integrated communications. Organizations should evaluate UCaaS vendor capabilities, their experience with integrated communications and the security of their offerings.

“When you’re moving to integrated communications, there is a new set of capabilities you want your provider to have, especially if you don’t have it in-house,” she said.

Access to APIs also gives organizations greater flexibility to integrate UC capabilities with business apps and offers resources they may not have in-house. Organizations can develop communication tools with APIs purchased in a UC bundle or as standalone services, Gilman said.

“APIs are going to allow for hooks back into existing business apps and help enable better contextual communication,” he said.

Molding horizontal capabilities for vertical use cases

Integrated communications offers horizontal capabilities, such as SMS notifications and geofencing. Organizations can tailor these tools for vertical market needs to improve workflows, Myers said.

To determine the vertical context for integrated communications, organizations should evaluate the type of interaction between an organization and its customers, such as exchanges between a doctor and patient or financial advisor and client, Gilman said.

Organizations can then apply horizontal capabilities in a vertical manner. SMS notifications, for instance, could remind patients to refill a prescription. Or, geofencing could provide ambulances with access to electronic health records so a patient’s information is ready when arriving at a hospital.