Central government and a Microsoft unified communications platform

Microsoft unified communications platform

22 Feb Central government and a Microsoft unified communications platform

It used to be, way back at the dawn of digital, that if you needed to communicate with a colleague about something business process-related, you had a couple of options: You could call them up on your private branch exchange (PBX) telephone system, maybe running into a receptionist or personal assistant along the way, or you could walk over to their office and see if they had a minute. All in all, you knew your options—there wasn’t much room for confusion. Then again, there wasn’t much flexibility, either.

As technology has developed, organisations have typically updated their business processes to take advantage of the progress. For example, fax became a faster way to send documents over longer distances than regular mail, and email has since replaced both. Similar advancements are taking place in business telephony systems. Unified communications solutions are disrupting how employees in companies of all sizes talk to each other and collaborate. And yet, some organisations have been faster than others at adopting the new capabilities.

Going beyond a dial tone

Our post today will consider the benefits of a Microsoft unified communications platform for central government. Specifically, we’re talking about Office 365, a platform containing all the right tools to do what a unified communications solution needs to do, and much more. Let’s consider the benefits of a single system like that to central government here in the UK.

But before we do, it’s probably best to reacquaint ourselves with what we mean when we talk about unified communications (UC):

UC, or unified comms, is defined as the integrated communications systems that seeks to optimise business processes. So, that means adding real-time and non-real-time communications into the mix with how you get your business done.

The makeup of unified communications:

Real-time communications
• Instant messaging
• Chat
• Presence information
• Telephony/VoIP
• Call control
• Video conferencing

Non-real-time communications
• Unified messaging
• Integrated voicemail
• Email
• Fax

It might sound like an individual product, but as you can see from the list above, UC is a combination of various tools and solutions that work in combination, providing a consistent user interface and experience across multiple devices. To get a better picture of this, let’s consider talk in the business world regarding unified communications replacing the traditional business phone system. In fact, many businesses and organisations are already using certain parts of a UC solution, like Skype for Business or other Voice over IP (VoIP) clients. By going further, and combining a better range of communication tools and features into a deeper UC solution that works specifically with business processes, companies can significantly increase their overall effectiveness while also reducing cost. So, pretty good for the bottom line.

Digital transformation

Trends are changing across the industry. In fact, digital transformation is changing the entire business landscape—and unified communications is a central aspect to this change. Executed correctly, it can allow small and medium sized enterprises to compete with much larger organisations by:

• Boosting employee efficiency
• Reducing costs
• Providing better customer service
• Bettering revenue

But as you may have guessed by our title, SMEs are not the only type of organisations that can benefit from a streamlined UC solution. The same logic applies to central government (as well as other public sector organisations) who now more than ever are looking to take advantage of cost reduction and innovation brought forth by digital transformation. By switching from traditional PBX telephony to a lower cost, feature-rich alternative, the central government can replace maintenance, implementation and administrative expenses associated with current business phone systems.

Never miss another call

Beyond the cost savings, one of the major benefits of a UC solution is that it provides a single system that manages multiple tools and platforms. Office 365 provides a fully functional unified communications solution, built-in to the platform. With Skype for Business, government workers can make calls from anywhere using a phone, PC, or mobile device. Not only that, running through Office 365, they will also have access to Outlook and the entire Office productivity suite.

In fact, you can now operate Skype calls and instant messaging from inside Outlook as well as a Word document. Negating the need to switch between different clients means government workers can cut the clutter and distraction as well as reducing the risk of losing work. If they are away from their desk and without access to a mobile device, a missed call notification/voicemail will automatically be emailed to their Outlook so that they never have to worry about falling behind on a project or piece of vital information.

A unified communications platform is one of the pillars of innovation and collaboration, enabling far greater engagement across departments in central government. Office 365 sits at the centre of this. Now staff can work together no matter where they are, be it government office in London, or on a business trip in Birmingham without the expense of mobile roaming. Nowhere is communication more vital than in a place where leadership are constantly making important decisions that affect all of us.

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About the author
Alan Griffiths

Alan is Head of Sales at CPS and holds 25 years of sales experience working throughout a variety of industries including Publishing, Advertising, ISP’s and Hosting providers. For the past 11 years, Alan has worked for three prestigious Microsoft consultancies selling across the full Microsoft product stack. More recently Alan has sold and delivered the following services: Cloud Technologies including Office 365 and Dynamics CRM online, in addition to strategic short and long term technology roadmaps for a number of clients. He has provided these services to hundreds of blue-chip customers across all industries from IT, telecoms and engineering, to pharmaceutical, aerospace and government organisations.

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