It is not uncommon for businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises, to seek new ways to gain – and maintain – a competitive advantage. One of the key strengths of small businesses is their ability to adapt to market changes quickly. It is much easier to make changes and adapt when you don’t have thousands of employees and a lot of departments to synchronize.

To make things even better, small businesses can now rely on the same unified communications or UC solutions used by larger corporations. These UC systems have a lot of features integrated into them, but these five important features are what can really transform small businesses and take them to new heights.

Minimum Investment

The reason why unified communications used to be the domain of large enterprises is because there are a lot of investments to make before a company can use an IP-based unified system. Aside from new hardware and a server to support the entire network, the top UC systems needed big bandwidth and an equally capable internal network to work smoothly.

Today, those barriers have been removed. Companies like KBZ are making unified communications available as a service and a suite. The latter still uses the same cloud infrastructure and includes added services (i.e. maintenance and regular upgrades) but it is possible to use on-site hardware to a certain degree.

Both approaches enable smaller businesses with limited budgets to benefit from unified communications and the other features the solutions include. That brings us to our second impactful feature, which is….

Unified Everything

As a small business owner, you need to provide a main phone number where customers can reach you. This number is usually accompanied by a fax number for B2B customers and vendors. On top of those two numbers, you may want to install a third telephone line for handling internal communications. Sounds like too much to do? Well, we haven’t even got to setting up extensions for each department – and team member – as well as setting up other ways of communicating.

The complicated setup we just reviewed can now be replaced with one unified communications system. The system will handle everything from separating calls to the right virtual extensions, providing one number to reach each team member and even making sure messages and phone calls are received properly.

A simple and unified system makes communicating with each team member very easy to do. Reaching a key decision maker when a critical decision has to be made is easier than ever, allowing the small business to make decisions more quickly.

Presence and Communications Management

One feature that small businesses can really benefit from is Presence. Presence is a unique feature available as part of Cisco Spark. That said, a variation of this feature is also present in other UC systems.

What this feature does is check if the person you’re trying to reach is available. If that person is not signed in, the system will automatically determine the best way to get the call or message through. It can even choose to redirect the call or message to the right person should the original recipient not be available, so customers and other team members can still get the information or decision they need.

Presence is paired with an advanced communications management system, capable of handling meetings and making the whole system more interactive. When a group video call is in progress, a participant can share presentation materials, documents or set up a collaborative window.

Cloud-Based & Easy Access

Modern UC systems are so robust they can be implemented in the cloud and accessed from any device you and your team use. The Cisco Spark we talked about earlier, for example, can direct calls made to the office number to mobile devices, allowing business operations to remain smooth even when key personnel are not at the office.

The rest of the system is easily accessible. Another good example is how a sales officer can get a custom quotation made, approved and delivered to the client in a few minutes while actually making a sales visit to the client’s office. This kind of integration will give small businesses even more tools to stay competitive in a growing market.

These features are just a few of many you will be able to benefit from once the unified communications system is integrated into your business’s operations. Take the first step, choose a system that suits your needs perfectly and even you will be surprised by how much more competitive your business can be with everyone connected through the system.