There is a myriad of ways in which enterprises of all sizes can save on costs by having an integrated communication system. Here’s our advice.
Integrated Communication Systems (ICS) have been designed to allow different communications protocols or interfaces, such as digital telephony, traditional analogue telephony and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), to interconnect and interact seamlessly with one another, as well as with the applications used in a company.
The challenge usually comes in when a company has an HR database, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) database – which helps them to manage their customer information – and an IT database with disparate functionalities. From our side, Nashua Communications looks at the components, how they’ve been compiled and what their functions are.
Companies usually have back office systems that are running on Microsoft, SAP or other CRM applications. Since it is difficult for enterprises to look at their own applications and be able to identify problems, they usually approach outside companies to perform an application discovery workshop (ADW) to see how their communications systems can be integrated. The company’s current system is looked at and then it is determined how their existing collaboration systems can be integrated within that.
Why is it so important for companies to invest in an ICS? Because there are various ways in which it can save your company money in the long term. In this blog post, we highlight seventeen of the many ways in which an ICS is cost effective.
Traditional phone lines are isolated systems. The whole idea behind an ICS is that your call system is integrated with your CRM. In the real world, this means a sales executive does not have to manually input the call details into the CRM during or after the call as they would have to do with an analogue phone system. The fact that they don’t have to perform data entry means that they can spend more time answering more calls and speaking to more clients and potential customers.
Another way in which the ICS saves money is by allowing companies to be more efficient and proficient about the way in which they process their information. Instead of having to type it into two or three different applications, an ICS would allow it to be popped into different applications synchronising the data in them.
3. Responding faster
From an integration side, a good ICS is able to take a company’s collaboration system, the caller ID, or the number that the company has dialled, and push all that data through to companies back-office systems. This allows them to be very effective and respond much faster than they normally would as the data is all in one place rather than multiple applications.
4. No need to change existing applications
No organisation likes to change their applications, due to the cost layout and the training involved. They just want everything to function. When companies use certain providers to integrate their communications systems, they do not have to change their existing applications. A provider worth its salt will simply look at their different applications and see how to merge them in such a way that they are able to communicate with each other and the ICS software.
Therefore, there is no reason for a company to change its processes. For example, if the HR department gets a new appointee, or the IT department gets a new person sitting at the desk, they just add the information to the system and it will then update everything in the network. In a nutshell, it’s one input giving you many outputs.
5. Software independent
Look for an ICS provider that is software independent. Our system, for example, uses a middleware solution which is able to integrate into any system. If the customer, for example, uses an open source software with standard API’s (Application Programming Interface), we’re able to tap into any of those applications and make it communicate with each other.
6. Single sign-on
Cloud-based systems don’t work if your active directory or your main database systems are not in the correct format and properly maintained. Single sign-on means that you can go onto one system and you’re able to sign onto another application approved in your organisation using the same access method. One example of how that saves time and cost, is by automating password resets.
7. Long-term value
Although there is an initial cost layout involved with implementing an ICS, it will save your company a great deal of money over time, since you’re paying a professional service to identify your problems in the database and then fix them. Once you have an ICS in place, you will not have to keep fixing your databases and systems, because it will now be kept updated by one central source. That central source will most likely be the HR department, since they’re the centre of all things happening within the organisation. Over time you save a lot of time(money) maintaining other systems access.
8. It’s secure
Look for an ICS that goes behind an enterprise’s firewalls. A system could be installed in such a way that it’s not internet-facing. It’s important that your communications provider understands your security policies and that they are able to work around it to ensure that the system works flawlessly. Ideally, if they do need to open anything to go onto the internet, they must make sure that it’s the bare minimum and work with the IT department to check whether there is any risk involved with it. With cloud-based systems, you must go onto the internet to a certain degree, but you can secure what you do in that environment.
9. After hours maintenance
South Africa’s broadband bandwidth costs are among the highest in the world. If your ICS works on premise and they have to use your company’s internet or intranet to perform maintenance, it is possible to request them to do it after hours to be the least disruptive. Therefore, there will be no reason for you to increase bandwidth between the different sites. It’s all about understanding your needs and not incurring any unnecessary costs for them.
10. Business Intelligence
BI, or Business Intelligence, forms part of the Microsoft package and cloud-based system that can be deployed for companies. Microsoft’s Power BI provides accurate information about the usage of different applications on different systems. For example, a company will be able to track how much time their employees are spending on voice calls. The system will also provide accurate reporting on the company’s adoption of various applications and its usage.
11. It’s fit for companies of any size
Call centres are obviously a major beneficiary of an ICS, and you want an ICS which is able to be written into your CRM systems and execute caller ID pop ups that immediately identify the incoming caller. Bigger organisations managing a large amount of staff and staff that frequently rotate can also benefit from having an ICS. Even smaller organisations that have multiple sites, because an ICS centralises the information so that everyone is visible to the database and the information that they are running, whether they are sitting in Durban or in Cape Town.
12. Faster problem-solving
In the event of a technology failure – which is minimised with cloud-based systems – the problem will be pinpointed and solved much faster on an ICS than on a traditional analogue line, where the disconnect can often be difficult to track down, significantly increasing the amount of time you’ll be unable to communicate with your clients and employees. An ICS, with its cloud-based applications, is protected by multiple layers of hardware and software to keep systems running in the event of an outage or equipment failure. The onus of maintaining and updating these systems also sits with the software owner so you’re not incurring monthly maintenance or unexpected costs.
13. Allows for remote working
According to a recent study conducted by Regus, one-third of workers work outside of their company’s main offices for half the week or more, with 62% of employees working remotely sometimes. With ICS in place in your company, your personnel will be able to work from home or while they are travelling as the VoIP system allows for phones and applications to work from virtually anywhere. This enhances productivity and can even reduce overhead costs such as utilities, office supplies and office space and reduces the long hours spent in traffic been unproductive.
14. Automated self-help service
Since all the applications used by an enterprise have their information in one place in an ICS, clients calling in can be guided by automated systems (numeric prompts, such as “press 0 for Operator”) to be directly connected to the correct employee. This is especially relevant to large corporations with multi-level information systems, such as the South African Revenue Service (SARS), commercial banks, insurance companies, and airlines. It allows company employees to speak to more customers and the customers in turn to reach the relevant division they need to speak to without unnecessary delay.
15. Improves productivity and collaboration
By having tools and applications in one easily accessible system, a company with an ICS can enable their workers to be more productive and efficient. Real-time collaborative tools provide employees with the opportunity to work with their colleagues on documents and projects, thereby enhancing productivity.
16. Flexibility and ease to expand
When your business expands and you need to take on more staff and open new offices, your ICS will allow you to add as many phone extensions and applications as you need, only paying for what you need for as long as is necessary. With traditional telephony, you first have to renegotiate your contracts and wait – often weeks – for line installation.
17. Ready for the future.
The applications in an ICS are constantly updated with the latest features, thereby ensuring that you and your company stay on the forefront of the latest technology trends, ready to embrace the future.
Those are just some of the ways in which having an ICS can save your company money. If you would like additional details on how you can deploy an ICS in your enterprise, contact Nashua Communications. You can also subscribe to our blog for further helpful information.