Communicating at the speed of 2019’s fastest-moving businesses
The speed of change is never quite as quick as we journalists in the technology press would like to make out. After email became standard issue in every forward-looking office and workplace (from 1980 to 2000, roughly), writers were quick to talk about the death of some, older conduits for business communication.
Similarly, text-based platforms, especially data-based formats like Messenger, Apple Messages, and WhatsApp regarded as the death knell for the simple SMS, and even the voice call.
The reality is different from many predictions, however: fax is alive and well, SMS and voice calls still connect individuals and organisations, and — depending on demographic — some eschew platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger altogether. But it should be mentioned that personal or cultural reasons for preferences aside, the numbers of modes of communication are increasing. New platforms allow large organisations to communicate internally and externally, and add capabilities like group chat, video conferencing, file sharing and control of remote systems.
The effect on modern businesses has been a removal of some of the physical constraints on work patterns common just a few years ago. Remote workers, branch offices, BYOD platforms and always-on networks mean that workforces now look and behave quite differently.
Into this situation comes a new generation of providers that connect and empower teams right from the smallest startups to global enterprises. Network speeds and bandwidths are now fast enough throughout much of the world for even HD video to be carried down the same fibres as plain-text emails. And while each mode of sharing, collaboration, connection and communication has its advocates, some are particularly suited to specific purposes.
The first case in point is voice calling. When communicating C2B, it’s the preferred way for certain (often older) demographics and remains one of the most efficient and quickest way of B2B, and internal team-to-team connection. New projects, new customers, queries and workgroup sessions are best fielded via voice comms — a technology that goes back to the early 20th century’s analogue telephones.
For legally-sensitive information, fax remains an important way of document interchange. Not only is fax more secure than email, but its physical nature gives both parties a reassurance that something as nebulous as email will not ever achieve. Like the latest VOIP systems or Skype call, fax has evolved and bears little relation to its previous incarnations as the noisy, squawking machines in the corner of the office.
Electronic fax management services, in-house and cloud-based, continue to thrive, and these combine the ease of digital messaging with the reassurance and permanency of fax.
Likewise, emails are still in everyday common use, although today’s media-rich, HTML mails are an evolutionary step from the command-line orchestrated, plain text emails of the 1970s.
Customer care teams are now using systems which cleverly aggregate all different forms of communication, so that all preferences and comms methods can be catered to — so-called omnichannel solutions. The more advanced of this type of platform uses AI to constantly improve speech-to-text services and intelligent OCR algorithms, so even voice call content and paper documents can be digitized on the fly.
It’s these types of technology that are being deployed by teams of colleagues, often comprising of remote workers all brought together by means of new-generation collaboration and communication platforms. Single applications provide multiple communication methods, and others are concentrated on expanding the possibilities of a single comms method, like voice or email.
As organisations evolve digitally, workgroups are finding new ways to work together more efficiently, and businesses are communicating better, quicker and cheaper with one another, and their customers.
Here at Tech Wire Asia, we’re looking at four of the latest product offerings from commercial communications providers. Whether your large organisation is looking for a nimbler comms strategy, or a small player looking to adopt the professional sheen of the global company, read on.
Data compliance and information security are — perhaps rightly — becoming the mainstays of IT policy throughout enterprises across Australia and New Zealand. With eFax, companies can gain or maintain their compliant status, as the cloud-based service is fully in line with the standards governed by HIPPA, SOX, PCI-DSS and GLBA, to name a few.
That’s a considerable relief from many headaches that companies struggle with, when it comes to maintaining their in-house fax services. But what’s also a massive advantage is the way that the eFax service integrates seamlessly with other enterprise grade software, e.g. SAP, SalesForce, Oracle and so on.
That virtualisation of the fax comms channel means that it not only becomes part of everyday workflows thanks to its integration but can now join the other collaborative working practices that are essential in any digitally transformed business.
The convenience and compliance advantages are joined by the significant reduction in costs associated with traditional fax. With no hardware to maintain and support, and no specialised infrastructure required, the eFax service is the most efficient and cost effective solution for the business. With eFax, the ease and convenience of digital combines with the security and assurance of fax.
eFax’s solutions provide companies with scalable, simple and secure services for businesses of any size, and the cloud basis of the services means that information can be exchanged in an automated manner: multiple recipients, mailing lists, groups, encryption— it’s all possible with eFax. To read more about the service, click here.
Every company, small to large multi-national, still uses voice for their most critical communications. Whether it’s negotiating the final details of a contract last-minute or connecting remote workers with the rest of their workgroup, live voice communications are still the most reliable means of getting ideas across.
However, many companies are still not exploiting the capabilities of their significant investment in phone systems. By virtualising phone services, the business gets efficient, modern capabilities that help drive digital transformation, collaborative services and call routing.
Using technologies from Fonebox lets companies connect better with their customers, partners and suppliers, as well as bringing even the largest geographically separated enterprise together.
Abstraction of phone services creates a platform that offers customers new routes into the business, and helps companies connect better, providing better customer experiences.
There’s a wealth of call tracking, logging and analysis too, and call data becomes an important part of the business intelligence processes. With Fonebox, organisations get a significant piece of their digital transformation and virtualisation journey. You can read more about Fonebox here on Tech Wire Asia.
Canadian Mitel offers a broad sweep of products for the modern workplace’s communications needs. For teams, there are several variation on a unified collaboration platform, with an emphasis right across the offerings on mobile compatibility. That’s apparent from VOIP-type management from an individual user’s cell, right up to file-sharing, messaging (on- and off-platform) and even desktop control and monitoring.
There are apps which concentrate on voice comms management from users’ desktops, to entirely cloud-based call center management suites. Additionally, being a provider that produces a broader-than-average offering menu, there’s complete integration with a range of related products that help power other business units, like Sales Department management systems, and CRM functions for both customer care and new business activities.
There are also discrete products that help drive efficiencies in customer-facing areas, like mass-communications platforms that can push messages out down multiple conduits, like email mailings and mass-SMS messaging. Additionally, there’s even a suite designed specifically for reception use: the important, customer-facing gateway into any organisation.
The omnichannel nature of customer contact functions is well-served by 8×8, which offers a cloud-based contact centre platform available to any sized business.
Smaller concerns may wish to start with a simple desktop and mobile VOIP solution, services that are scalable within the 8×8 raft of solutions. With business growth in mind, the 8×8 system integrates with common enterprise-level software like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, although for smaller businesses, the platform also offers its own CRM — a simple way to get up and running fast in an omnichannel customer contact setting.
Routing calls to the correctly skilled operator can make the difference between a disgruntled user and a newly-minted brand advocate, and 8×8 can help you ensure you stay on the right side of good client relationships.
The company will also come to your aid in the case of a massive data loss or business disruption event, as it offers continuity solutions for affected companies; even a natural disaster won’t unduly interrupt the flow of communications between your organisation and the outside world.
*Some of the companies featured are commercial partners of Tech Wire Asia