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How small and medium-sized businesses can stay competitive with larger companies

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Posted: Monday, April 21, 2014 5:00 pm | Updated: 1:32 am, Tue Apr 22, 2014.

(BPT) - Some of the latest changes in technology are making it easier for employees to connect with clients and conduct business both day and night, which makes it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to compete against larger companies.

Just a few years ago, unified communications (UC) systems were commonly found in large enterprises, however with the growth and wide-spread availability of the Internet, this technology is now becoming a competitive edge for small and medium-sized businesses. UC allow employees to interconnect anywhere at any time, helping to increase productivity and collaboration. From online messaging to Internet protocol telephony (IP telephony), businesses of all sizes can take advantage to connect with clients, partners and coworkers at all times of the day.

Since 2012, the actual and planned use of UC has risen 54 percent, according to a November 2013 poll commissioned by Plantronics. The company, in partnership with Spiceworks, released an infographic to visually show the growth in UC product usage. Two technologies experiencing the greatest increase are mobile extension integration - which allows a company to connect employee cellphones with the company’s landline for purposes of forwarding calls when the employee is on the road, and for identifying calls made from the employee’s cellphone as having come from the company line – and IP telephony – which allows companies to conduct voice, video or fax connections via the Internet. Companies are also planning to boost the usage of Web and video conferencing, instant messaging with presence and softphones - which allow employees to make telephone calls over the Internet.

The use of UC helps remote and mobile employees to stay connected with headquarters and can improve customer service, too, because it makes employees available when customers need them.

Plantronics identified the following five features as necessary parts of a UC system that employees will love:

* Unified messaging – All messages from email, voicemail, video, text and all other forms of communication will be gathered in one inbox, making it easy for employees to check and review all messaging in one glance. The phone messages can be accessed with a mobile Bluetooth headset like the Voyager Legend UC, transcribed for reading, or even forwarded to a colleague.

* Presence – With many workers now on the road or working remotely, it will be easy for employees and management to see if someone is available with this feature of UC.

* Integrated conferencing – A blend of Web and audio conferencing, integrated conferencing allows all employees to participate in meetings, training activities and lectures without having to come into the office.

* Instant messaging or chat – All employees can quickly connect and hold a discussion about the latest company news with IM or chat capability. These UC tools also allow for the sharing of video or a desktop screen to enhance the communication.

* One-number reach – This system gives clients direct access to employees, improving customer relations. One number is provided to clients. When called, this number is routed to all the telecommunications devices selected by the employee, such as their office number, mobile number and home phone, for example. The employee can set it to call all numbers at the same time or sequentially, and if the call is not answered, the system will deliver the caller to the employee’s voicemail.

View the full how-to guide at www.plantronics.com/media/smb/how-to-guide/SMB_UnifiedCom.pdf.

Employees at small and medium-sized businesses are busier than ever, which is why these unified communications technologies are so important. Learn more from Plantronics about the latest technology with how-to guides, tools and resources that can help small and medium businesses stay competitive at www.plantronics.com/SMB.

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