Meet Small Businesses’ Secret Weapon

Stephen Mulligan
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On: 10 Nov 2016
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Small Business UC

The traditional telephone line is holding back small businesses because of its limited capabilities. Even the smallest business can take advantage of a secret weapon that will untie them from the phone line, bring Unified Communications within budget, and give them the appearance, efficiency and productivity of businesses many times their size.

Some frogs inflate their throats. Some lizards lift up a frill around their heads. Peacocks spread out their tail feathers. Even humans stand up straighter and flex their biceps. We all want to make ourselves look bigger than our competitors, whether we’re competing for food, mates or business.

First impressions count and this can make it hard for small business to compete with the big boys. Enter the secret weapon that will not only enhance your image, but actually help you work more efficiently, be more productive and provide a better customer service; so that ultimately, you won’t be just thinking and looking bigger – you will be bigger.

Big communications, small budgets

What usually gives a large enterprise its advantage is a large budget. It can invest in the latest technology to enhance productivity, leaving smaller businesses with smaller budgets trailing. This was the case when Unified Communications (UC) was first introduced. It demanded a level of investment no small business could hope to achieve.

However there was no shortage of entrepreneurs – or opportunists – ready to take advantage by offering cheap or free cloud services to businesses with smaller budgets. The experience was however generally poor and as the adage says, if you’re using a product and not paying for it, then you are the product. Or in other words: if you’re using a free cloud service, in one way or another the provider will be getting more out of you than you’re getting out of them.

These providers may not be going about things in the best way to benefit your small business, but they are using the best tool: the cloud. Used correctly, it’s the secret weapon for the small business that wants to look big.

Affordable, scalable UC

As experts in UC for large enterprises, Three wondered how smaller businesses could benefit. The solution was to use the cloud to provide enterprise-quality UC tools at a price to suit small business. Although not free, the solution is very affordable, especially when compared to traditional UC. There is no large upfront investment and it’s tailored to suit the business size, charged on a monthly basis, and completely scalable for when the small business becomes bigger.

What Three’s solution – 3Connect – does is tip the balance in favour of UC for companies poised between being a big small business and a small big business.

What’s made the difference is that Three made the investment in the hardware, data centres and software that make UC happen, so the customer doesn’t have to. Now small businesses can simply pay for the services they need, rather than the infrastructure needed to provide them, making UC now affordable and scalable.

4 Pillars of UC

There are four basic pillars that support UC for the small business:

  • Mobility
  • Security
  • Connectivity
  • Productivity

Mobility

Mobility is at the core; addressing the needs of the increasingly mobile workforce who want to be free to work wherever they are, on their phone, laptop or tablet.

Security

Related to mobility is security – data security. When data is on or even accessible from numerous devices, on- and off-site, it’s critically important to protect it.

Connectivity

Because more people are working in more places, connectivity is essential – both to each other and to the internet. A growing business with more locations can also benefit from seamless connectivity that works as if people are in the next office not the next city.

Productivity

By accelerating communication with Instant Messaging, and saving travel time with video conferencing for example, UC can create more working hours in the day. It can provide phone features that ensure customer calls are routed to the right person, to enhance efficiency. And because it can act as a virtual receptionist, routing calls to the right department (even if all departments are manned by the same person!) it can give even the smallest business a big business presence, and give every customer enterprise-level service.

Better still, thanks to the cloud and 3Connect, all these services, features and benefits are available to small businesses for less than the cost of a traditional phone line. So this secret weapon won’t stay secret for much longer.