One of the benefits of Voice over IP services – we are often told by VoIP resellers such as DMSLUK – is increased collaboration. But how exactly does a hosted voice service improve our ability to communicate and work together? After all, most organisations do already use voice and web conferencing capabilities that are used extensively, and most boardrooms have been equipped with video conferencing systems for many years.
The first and most simple way in which VoIP makes collaboration easier, is that it increases the availability and accessibility of every user in an organisation. With VoIP, users always take their personal number with them. They can be contacted wherever they are and whatever device they are using for voice – whether it is a desktop handset, their mobile phone or their laptop or tablet.
This means that they can access the same tools and resources wherever they are and participate in collaborative team meetings and conference calls at any time. They can do this without the organisation incurring any additional cost to the organisation.
VoIP provides a foundation for a fundamental change in the way organisations are working today. The need for organisations to be more flexible, agile and responsive has made mobile and remote working essential. At the same time, a new generation of users who have learned how to collaborate using social media apps, are now entering the workplace and they want and expect to use more efficient and effective forms of collaboration.
This is making email less important and bringing seamless, efficient and integrated voice communications back to the heart of the collaborative experience.
The way we use collaboration right now is quite inefficient. Most conference calls and virtual meetings involve individual users logging onto a specific website using a specific meeting code and each participant dialling in or getting the conference software to call them.
To set the meeting up in the first place, and to make sure everyone who needs to attend can attend and brief everyone about the agenda, it will also have been necessary for the organiser to send an invitation and everyone to reply. There may also have been numerous emails and responses being sent between the participants ahead of the meeting to ensure it is productive.
While we are on the subject, email has become the bane of many people’s business life. Keeping on top of you inbox can be a constant struggle that eats up a lot of the day, saps creative energy and prevents individuals from focusing on what’s important. It stops us getting any real work done.
Email is in fact a very disjointed, fragmented form of communication. Its limitations are one of the reasons that many more advanced and younger users, now prefer to use instant messaging apps – whether they are dedicated and specific IM apps, or part of a unified communications or collaboration system.
Many more progressive organisations are now taking a further step and encouraging their users and teams to abandon email and use dedicated collaboration tools like Cisco WebEx and Microsoft Teams for example, to enable their users and whole teams to collaborate, share information, and connect digitally, audibly and visibly at any time. Features such as interactive whiteboarding make the whole experience more interactive, richer and more productive.
The principle and the goal here is same as it is for collaboration. It aims to bring all the different individuals involved in a team or process together, so they can communicate clearly, exchange ideas and move things forward much faster. At the same time, this more integrated and concentrated form of collaboration reduces the need for multiple and the often overly-complex email threads that are generated by remote team-working.
The idea is that, eventually, this seamless way of working remotely in teams will put an end to the almost obsessive use of email and the other forms of messaging that only serve to complicate collaborative team interaction. It brings voice back to the very heart of team communications and interactions. Using VoIP means that you can much more easily integrate voice with collaboration systems and with the hosted voice providing a readily-available channel for audible communications, team meetings can be instigated seamlessly at multiple levels.
The fact that some organisations are already using a more advanced form of collaboration and moving away from email, does not mean that any other form of collaborative activity must be abandoned. Indeed, all hosted VoIP services will come with voice conferencing features and in some cases, they are quite advanced.
There is no reason why other collaboration and meeting-room systems, like WebEx, can’t still be used – and the VoIP system will make it easier by enabling instant and uncomplicated voice connections over the web. In doing so, it provides the foundation for a higher form of business collaboration.