It’s a common misconception that government offices and departments have access to big budgets for employee payrolls, operations and processes. More often than not, government offices are running on tight budgets, which sometimes forces them to remain complacent and stuck in age-old methods.
While disruption and innovation are taking the private, corporate and entrepreneurship spaces by a storm, the public sector is otherwise occupied with larger, national and international issues. “Why change something that works?” is a question that pops up often, when governments are proposed digitization and other automated communications systems.
But gone are those days. The public sector all over the world has taken notice that cities and citizens are moving fast – faster than governments are themselves. The public is disrupting and progressing in a digital world, and if government offices and public services don’t keep pace, they are going to fall behind.
The last decade or so, then, has seen government offices globally step up to make a change. These rather change-resistant organizations have realized the challenges that they are able to tackle, including solutions for connectivity, agility, cost-control and flexibility that come with smart solutions like unified communications and virtual collaboration systems.
But first, what exactly are ‘Unified Communications’?
‘Unified Communications’ refers to a set of equipment, software and services that integrate various real-time enterprise communication channels and platforms that businesses use. This includes real-time channels like instant messaging, voice, audio, video and web conferencing, data sharing and non-real-time services like email, text message and fax.
A Unified Communications system brings all of these communication channels together on one platform, and adds to them features like ‘Presence’, which tells team members of the willingness, availability and location of other team members to help facilitate convenient, effective communication.
UC promotes efficiency, streamlines communication and brings team members together on a seamless platform that is not limited by differences in devices or channels.
You can probably imagine then that for large organizations that span countries or the globe, even, UC makes for an obvious answer to many communication and productivity challenges.
Benefits of Unified Communications to Government Offices
Having addressed a number of challenges for our clients, and based on our experience here at Granteq, we have collated a list that covers the major benefits of UC systems to offices and departments in the public sector.
Increased productivity and team connectivity
Government employees are often not at their desks – conducting fieldwork, attending major national events and meetings, driving initiatives. Keeping them connected to the rest of their teams, wherever they are, leads to increased efficiency and productivity. An easy-to-access unified communications system also allows employees to work remotely, or from home, offering greater flexibility to accomplish what is often a challenging job.
The ‘Presence’ feature of UC systems is extremely handy for teams spread across large geographical areas, too. This feature allows every team member to access the system for information on the location and availability of other team members, helping to quickly deploy messages using the most suitable form of communication.
An e-mail (or another non-real-time message) might be apt for the boss’s attention, who is currently attending an important awards function, but a quick conference call to team members would be more effective if they are working on the field but need to turn their attention to another urgent task. Presence helps you make that decision for the quickest output or turnaround.
Effective for crisis management and disaster response
The public sector is often tense with a crisis on-hand. Quick, on-the-fly communication, with no location or device constraints help teams stay alert, informed and equipped to solve the problem at hand most efficiently.
In times of crisis, resources and their time and availability becomes extremely valuable, and a seamless communication platform that connects the team helps to make things just a little bit easier.
UC systems reduce costs
A switch to a newer technology or process no doubt has an upfront cost element attached to it – often a big one. But an efficient integrated or unified communications system, in the medium and long run, cuts costs significantly both directly and indirectly.
Government bodies that turn to UC can certainly expect reduced costs for telecoms and travel, and also better time utilization on their employees’ parts, further contributing to cost efficiency.
For federal governments, for instance, the flexibility of being able to connect on web conference calls from any device, anywhere, the travel savings are big – a team of auditors no longer needs to fly out to a site to inspect progress – the whole process can be handled virtually.
Makes the workforce more agile and responsive
Quicker, easier communications help governments to move faster and for decisions to be made faster. The agility that comes with a well-implemented UC system is undeniable.
In government organizations, where approvals are often multi-layered and sit on top of a large pending pile, things seem to move slowly. A flexible communications platform can help to speed up processes – back-and-forth discussions are now quicker, data can be pulled across channels seamlessly and a traveling official can sign off a document without hassle, while she’s walking down the concourse to board her flight.
For these reasons and more, governments around the world are adopting UC as the new collaboration and communication solution. Let’s take a look at how a few government offices and departments around the world are using UC to their advantage:
The Alaska Legislative Affairs Agency is widespread across the vast area of the state. The legislators only meet for 90 days every year, and then work remotely with each other, relying heavily on unified communication to keep things moving efficiently. Because of the state’s geography, simple phone connections don’t often do the job. They employ a varied set of UC services like video conferencing, instant messaging, and VoIP integrated into desktops to reach employees and offices right across the state.
The Scotland Police Authority has published a tender to procure an integrated communications system to keep their officers and staff well-connected. “The system will provide critical operational communication functions, integrating the voice and data protocols between the force’s radio communications, telephony communications and Command and Control application for the management of frontline response policing,” according to the Government Computing article published in June 2018.
To share a local use case, the Ministry of Interior in the UAE employs a nation-wide UC system connecting the Ministry’s employees across all seven Emirates. The aim of the initiative was to migrate from a PBX IP phone system to a newer platform that allows the workforce to communicate more efficiently and effectively.
Other public authorities around the world are also starting to jump onboard the UC bandwagon. Service providers are stepping up to the challenge of the widespread training and system implementation involved, but the future looks bright, connected and seamless for those making the leap.
Granteq provides a wide variety of Unified Communications and Collaboration platforms. Our team provides complete support to teams and organizations of all sizes and is committed to keeping you one step ahead at all times. If you have any questions or queries with regards to UC or other digital solutions for your business, write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our experts will be sure to help you.