How to Green Your Business with Software-based Unified Communications

Unified communications helps businesses address environmental concerns with teleconferencing, remote collaboration tools and more. Unified communications as software rather than special purpose hardware frequently requires less energy to deliver the same functionality. Here, Knowledge Center contributor David Schenkel discusses a few ways that software-based unified communications can help your business save money while helping the environment.

/images/stories/70x50/bug_knowledgecenter_70x70_%282%29.jpgGoing green with unified communications is easier than most people think. IT administrators and their solution providers looking to green their networks should seriously consider software-based unified communications.

These solutions include built-in fax and voiceconferencing capabilities, which not only drives productivity and reduces human latency, but also reduces costs, energy use and more. The following are just a few ways that software-based unified communications can help you green your business.

1. Eliminate separate fax machines and lines

Fax machines produce a lot of unnecessary paper. They frequently require additional phone lines, as well as add unnecessary power consumption to any company's network. This is especially true for real estate agents, law firms and schools-all of which rely on paper faxes to shuttle around information.

The best unified communications solutions include fax as part of their unified messaging offering. Fax messages appear as attachments in your e-mail. They can be archived, forwarded or printed as necessary. Employees can fax directly from their desktops, which reduces the need for printers and print supplies.

Eliminating multiple fax machines and reducing your print supplies can save hundreds if not thousands for most businesses every month. Plus, it goes a long way toward reducing your carbon footprint.

2. Save money and the planet with voice and videoconferencing

The costs of air travel, both to your bottom line and to the environment, are substantial. Voiceconferencing allows employees to do business with their partners, suppliers and customers over the phone. A unified communications solution that includes voice over IP (VOIP) telephony can help bring voice, and even videoconferencing, to your business at a very low cost. Just make sure to buy a solution that's interoperable and flexible. Your business probably only needs voice conferencing today, but it may need videoconferencing tomorrow.

3. Buy software, not hardware

A lot of unified communications vendors will try to get you to rip out and replace your old, inflexible and proprietary phone system in order to get you to put in an entirely new, inflexible, proprietary phone system. Ripping and replacing isn't environmentally friendly.

But if you buy unified communications as a software solution that runs on a standard server platform (for example, Microsoft Windows), you can upgrade your phone system by just adding licenses and installing new software. Unified communications as software rather than special purpose hardware also frequently requires less energy to deliver greater functionality.

4. Streamline and automate with phone-based applications

If you've ever done telebanking, you've used a phone-based application. Sometimes these applications just offer self-service information (think movie listings) and sometimes they offer sophisticated, database-enabled transactions (such as telebanking). These applications are typically very costly to build with traditional phone systems, requiring a lot of specialized programming and professional services.

But providing customers with automated self-service over the phone is great for the environment. Similar to Web-based applications and Web sites, they allow businesses to spend less on producing signage, postcards, advertisements, catalogues, paperwork and a whole host of other things that require energy, chemical inks, paper and other natural resources to produce.

This is just the short list of the many ways in which a unified communications software solution can help your business get green. Going green with unified communications is a great way to save your company money while helping the environment.

/images/stories/heads/knowledge_center/schenkel_david70x70.jpg David Schenkel is Chief Technology Officer at Objectworld Communications Corp. In this role, David oversees the overall technical direction of the company and its product development plan. David is also responsible for the establishment of customer satisfaction through the use of continuous improvement processes for the delivery of both product and customer support. To achieve this mandate, David draws on over 25 years of experience relating technology convergences and market direction to corporate goals and processes.

Prior to this present venture, David was the CTO of Mobile Knowledge. In this position, David provided strategic product direction, and significantly improved the quality of the company's operations, including IT, manufacturing, professional services and customer support. David was also Director of Technology at Peregrine Systems and Loran International Technologies Inc., where he held similar responsibilities. Throughout his career, David has worked in large organizations such as Nortel and Mitel, and has also been a successful technology entrepreneur as one of the founders of Plaintree Systems. David holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Hon) degree from the Engineering Science Program at the University of Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected].