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How SMEs can benefit from greater convergence

Technology changes can make a big difference in small businesses. From incremental savings through more efficient telephony and improved connectivity, ensuring that sales calls are completed, to productivity gains without the need for new hires and better mobile for travelling staff.

These are just a few examples. And while each benefit on its own might push an SME’s communications solution to work a bit harder, when combined the impact on a business can be significant. With recent research revealing that 63% of companies find network performance to be their biggest communications challenge, advances in telephony tech can drive efficiencies in to SMEs and help them to operate smarter than ever before.

One number, one location

It’s not unusual for a telecommunications provider to offer a redirect or call forwarding service. It’s a good system, but by no means a perfect one – with unplanned call forwarding often reliant on the network to turn on (and off again) and with costly call charges.

Fixed mobile convergence is changing things and helping to take the idea of a redirect a step further. One number solutions will mean that instead of an unanswered call or a redirect, customers calls can be connected to their desired contact, regardless of where that person is, or what device they are using.

And that one number doesn’t necessarily have to be rooted in the area the SME is based. With it now increasingly important for businesses to compete nationally, IP telephony has allowed geographic numbers to be freed from the ties to their exact physical location. For example, businesses now have the opportunity to have a London dial code even if the office (and the location the call will be answered) is in Glasgow.

Combined, number and location improvements give SMEs the opportunity to improve the image of their brand and the experience customers have when using their services. A comparatively small change can make a local company national, and present a professional, customer-focused front.

The best of both worlds

Today, mobile is considered to be the home for important productivity apps and helps support more flexible working practices. However, in the race to make smartphones all-conquering business tools, a few key elements have been missed out. As such, crucial traditional fixed-line functionality such as call queuing, hunt groups and inbound call handling – features that help enhance productivity for staff when away from the office – have not really migrated over onto mobile.

The future of convergence changes that. Essential features that enable businesses to get the most from their telephony will become available across all devices, so that calls can be managed more effectively across both fixed-line and mobile devices.

At the same time, the business-class voicemail usually associated with fixed telephony is now becoming available to mobile users. This gives users working remotely, or on the road, the opportunity to take advantage of personalised greetings, extended storage and flexible message delivery methods. It also gives SMEs another opportunity to present a more professional image that will set them apart from the competition.

Prepare for launch

Fixed mobile convergence for SMEs is fast becoming a viable communications solution. And with so many business-boosting benefits on offer, it’s becoming increasingly important that cost and productivity-conscious companies start thinking about how they can take advantage to future-proof their business.