To understand how communications tools can help businesses cut costs, let's take a closer look at a class of products and services commonly referred to as unified communications (or UC). Offered by various companies, UC systems typically involve a whole host of communications solutions that save time -- one of the most basic approaches a company can adopt to save money -- by connecting employees, clients and databases in more meaningful ways. Plus, with the advent of 3G and 4G networks, this can even apply to mobile participants.
Based on the specific UC setup's products and services, it can generally perform a number of tasks. For starters, it can halt endless rounds of time-wasting phone tag: Employees can check the statuses of their co-workers and opt to be routed automatically to the most ideal means of contacting them, whether that's through instant message, e-mail, landline or mobile phone. This dramatically cuts down delays. Employees can also keep in touch with clients more reliably, ideally making their company substantially more competitive in the marketplace.
In terms of collaborative projects among employees, a company's UC tools could include software that allows participants to interact in a variety of ways, whether they're manipulating a shared document or whiteboarding during a brainstorming session. Videoconferencing and Web conferencing capabilities can also go a long way toward saving money. They're able to bring pertinent people together without the need for travel expenses, and they also provide direct interaction that can often save time by eliminating the need for lengthy discussions through e-mail.
New 3G -- and eventually 4 G -- communication devices promise to take things a step farther by increasing the ability to perform mobile videoconferencing. Having 3G and 4G wireless mobile broadband access on laptops, notebooks and the like offers similar benefits. Instead of having to hunt for Internet access while traveling on the job, employees are able to pop online any time they need to and stay integrated with work while on the go.
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