Unified communications presents a wealth of benefits for improving collaborative capabilities, saving money on travel, and experiencing better voice quality. Unified communications describes the integration of enterprise communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, voice (including IP telephony), mobility features (including extension mobility and single number reach), audio, web & video conferencing, fixed-mobile and more. To get buy-in from your organization’s decision makers, however, you may have to overcome some reservations about the cost of unified communications.
The switch from a private branch exchange (PBX) system often results in extensive savings, but your best approach for getting a decision in favor of unified communications comes with a detailed return on investment (ROI) analysis that includes all the cost factors impacted by such a switch.
A typical ROI analysis may focus on the hard savings, such as costs salvaged from monthly fees or service charges. An approach that includes soft savings also takes into account the savings that come from improved productivity and other indirect benefits. Together, hard savings and soft savings present a complete and convincing case for adopting unified communications.
So what are some things to consider when measuring your ROI on unified communications:
Hard savings factors to include in your assessment of a unified communications ROI:
Lower monthly bills: Consolidating your telephone services, internet access, and cloud applications into one bundled unified communications solution has the potential to save you a lot of money on monthly bills. Hard savings can also be noticed in cost reduction on local and long distance calls as well as a decrease in access costs.
Lowered infrastructure costs: Not only will maintenance be less complicated, but you’ll also have less monetary investment in the maintenance and acquisition of hardware. The ability to access cloud services and virtual servers also helps you more accurately budget your IT resources. While there will be a monetary investment involved in any unified communications implementation, the massive up-front costs of purchasing hardware are eliminated. UCaaS costs are also both predictable and scalable, so more accurate cost projections can be made, resulting in dollars saved through the use of virtualization and cloud services.
Communication consolidation: If you’re like most organizations, you’re paying for a variety of apps for chat and video conferencing — which likely means you are paying for subscriptions to overlapping technology. While the hard savings realized from consolidation is dependent on how much unauthorized shadow IT activity happens at your business, unified communications effectively eliminates redundancies.
Reduced travel: Business travel costs can add up rapidly. While not all face-to-face meetings can be replaced with video or audio conferences, unified communications makes it possible to do so the majority of the time. With unified communications, geography is no longer a major concern with regard to meetings and even the hiring process. Collaboration, even at the global level, has no limits with unified communications, so you’ll spend a lot less money getting your team together to brainstorm and solve challenges.
Include soft savings in your ROI analysis for unified communications:
Improved communication and collaboration: In the U.S., the average worker wastes 1.5 hours per day looking for lost information. Unified communications reduces the lag time between conversations or the time that your employees spend chasing a trail of communications to find what was agreed upon in a previous conversation. Eliminating lost productivity in this way can ultimately result in significant savings. What’s more, the ability to collaborate in real-time via messaging, screen sharing, presence, and other capabilities also leads to greater productivity — and time and money saved in the long run.
A subscription-style setup offers financial benefits: Your finance team will appreciate the ability to categorize your unified communications subscription as monthly operating expenses, rather than a one-time capital expense. Paying on a monthly subscription basis as opposed to forking over a large amount of money up front is largely beneficial for businesses of all sizes.
Mobility: It’s hard to put a number on employee satisfaction, but the ability to work from anywhere and access the data they need in real time is one way to drive employee engagement. It also increases productivity, as workers are able to maximize their time while off-site through the use of mobile-first unified communications platforms. And with bring your own device (BYOD) policies on the rise, mobility is a necessity in the modern business environment.
Better customer service: Unified communications allows your customer service team to see the entire integrated contact history of a customer when they call, giving them immediate access to the whole picture to help resolve customer issues more quickly. Integration with customer relationship management (CRM) software allows customer service representatives to serve customers more effectively and efficiently, with metrics such as first-call resolution and call handling time maximized.