3 TOOLS YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS AT ITS CENTRE IN 2021

December 02, 2020

2020 has been a pretty crazy year.

And that’s putting it mildly.

Many businesses will already be looking to put it behind them and think about the future.

One of the big questions people have about 2021 is ‘are we all going to be working from home from now on?’

Now, a permanent shift to home working is unlikely. Most people are looking forward to getting back in the office. Everybody else, was probably working from home already.

But whatever your opinion on the matter, a move away from the rigid structures of the past and a rise in remote working is inevitable.

It’s also for the best. Being flexible and conducting your business online is only going to make your business more successful.

We’ve picked 3 tools which we think are essential for keeping your business up to speed in 2021.

1.  UNIFIED COMMS

An umbrella term if ever there was one, Unified Comms can encompass a number of different communication tools.

Traditional business communication can be incredibly disjointed and… slow.

UC brings everything together in one place and speeds it up.

What’s included in UC does vary. Slack is generally considered to be a UC platform but mainly consists of messaging and file sharing. Still, it’s used by a lot of businesses as a welcome alternative to email chains.

However, the most popular Unified Comms platforms like Microsoft Teams, have a number of functions.

We’re guessing you’ve probably heard of Teams. It’s been a key player in the giant video conferencing software battle that has happened this year, along with other providers like Zoom.

What puts it ahead of Zoom, particularly in business, is the fact that it’s a more complete package. File sharing, instant messaging and more are integrated into the software.

WHY DO WE NEED UNIFIED COMMS?

Being able to instantly contact another member of staff or involve everyone in your team in a particular project, without organising an in-person meeting or disrupting someone’s workflow, has a big impact on business productivity.

Yes, email does this to an extent but most would argue it goes too far the other way and is not fast enough.

Software like Microsoft Teams offer video conferencing on top of this. You can have a face-to-face meeting with other members of your business without leaving your seat.

For members of staff who want to work from home going forward, this is going to play a crucial role.

Other examples of UC software are Fuze, Cisco WebEx and Google’s GSuite Chat and Meet functions.

If you want more info about how to integrate Microsoft Teams into your business, we can help you with that.

2.  CLOUD BASED SOFTWARE

Nowadays, most software worth using, integrates with the cloud in some way. Cloud hosting has also become incredibly popular in recent times.

Some of our most used software which help us to perform many day-to-day business functions, use the cloud.

Of course, Teams, which we’ve already mentioned, is part of one of the most popular cloud-based software suites on the market.

Microsoft 365 is a fully cloud based platform that allows businesses to use common office software like Word and Excel whilst also having storage offsite. We wrote about the benefits of 365 here.

Another thing that can take place on the cloud is accounting. Our faves, Sage, have based the bulk of their flagship software around the cloud.

Whether it’s Sage 50cloud for small businesses or Sage 200cloud for larger ones (see our recent article for the differences) there are many reasons why it’s best to have this on the cloud.

WHY CLOUD?

We’ve talked about the benefits of moving your business to the cloud before. To give you a refresher, here are the main reasons you should consider a cloud first strategy.

The biggest benefits are offsite storage, regular updates and affordable pricing.

All of these things make remote working easier. The offsite storage means you can upload and download data wherever you are, and you don’t have to worry about maintaining onsite hardware.

The regular updates mean you are always using the latest version with all the latest features. There have been many examples of this during Covid-19 as the competition between software has been fierce.

Teams has seen multiple new upgrades, improvements and features added throughout 2020.

This all happens seamlessly over the cloud. No need to purchase new editions or spend ages re-installing hardware, it just downloads when you want.

3.  HOSTED VOIP

For those who don’t already have VoIP in their business, this is a must a have.

VoIP, for the un-initiated, is Voice over Internet Protocol, which means you take calls over the internet, not using a landline. This means employees can be reachable wherever they are.

Some VoIP systems even have their own integrated Unified Comms platform and video conferencing.

Essentially you want something that you can use on your mobile, on desktop and even in the office if you prefer the old ways of doing things. Most VoIP services offer physical hardware too.

Getting the right one for your business is important but like with the cloud, a big benefit is that the pricing is flexible. You normally pay per employee meaning it can scale with your business.

We’re big fans of the products by 3CX which include video conferencing and live chat too.

IS YOUR BUSINESS UP TO SPEED?

For a lot of businesses, if you’ve got Cloud based software, Unified Comms and VoIP, it doesn’t really matter where your employees are, they can still do their job.

It’s not going to apply to every business, but even those businesses that require a bit more than just computers, will benefit from having these things integrated.

You may be of the opinion, as we are, that the best environment for your business is still the office but unfortunately that luxury isn’t always available.

And even when things do clear up and everyone’s back, the likelihood is things will have changed forever.

There’s now going to be a higher demand for flexible working and the world’s a lot smaller than it used to be.

If you want to tap into a worldwide market, then you need to make sure you have a solid foundation of technology to do it.

Is there a part of this foundation that you don’t have yet?

Let us know and we’d be happy to help you find the right solution.

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