Enterprise Communications: Strategy, Features, & Best Practices

February 29, 2024 12 min read

Jory MacKay

Jory MacKay

Enterprise Communication Solutions - Features, Examples, and Vendor Recommendations

The larger your organization becomes, the more critical communication is to success. Yet, it’s easy to overlook enterprise-grade tools and strategies to scale.

Unlike small businesses, the stakes are higher. Finding the best platform to replace aging telecom infrastructure is no small task.

However, there’s more to think about than picking the right cloud communications provider. Enterprises need a bulletproof migration plan, stay on budget, and support future growth.

If you’re dealing with obsolete hardware that should’ve been retired, this guide is for you. Read on to get a primer on the ways to optimize your enterprise’s communications.

What Is Enterprise Communications?

Enterprise communication consists of an organization’s tools and practices to collaborate and share information internally and externally. Common examples include phone, email, instant messaging, and face-to-face video meetings.

An enterprise communication solution manages several essential business apps into one:

Traditionally, large organizations were tethered to on-premises phone systems, making remote work impossible. Administrators have to configure the trunk provider with an on-site PBX to connect end-users.

Why Do You Need Enterprise Communications?

Enterprise communications equip modern, distributed workforces to communicate, collaborate, and streamline workflows for greater efficiency. Some key reasons why enterprise communications are important include:

Old vs. Modern Enterprise Communications

The pandemic accelerated plans to move enterprise communications to the cloud. Legacy equipment lacks the functionality of the cloud for the same price (or less).

This shift isn’t only for new features. In the 2022 State of IT report, solving hardware/software compatibility gaps increased by 20%. The research offers context for why enterprises are overhauling their communication systems:

“Enterprises tend to have more resources for experimental projects, larger workforces […] the need for better customer support, the need for better tech expertise, and discount offers.”

The 2022 State of IT

Communication is one place where your company can’t afford to get left behind. That’s why larger firms have welcomed Unified Communication (UCaaS) solutions.

UCaaS streamlines many communication tools into a single interface. But that’s not all. It integrates well with enterprise apps like contact centers, CRM, and mobile presence. As a result, it makes it easier for companies to uphold peak productivity across the workforce.

And because cloud communications are hosted, it costs less to maintain and benefits from regular updates.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of traditional enterprise communications versus its cloud equivalent.

FeaturesOn-premises enterprise communicationsCloud-hosted enterprise communications
Set-upComplex. Overlapping tools for business phone, video conferencing, team collaboration, chat, and support.Lightweight. One tool for all internal and external communication.
InfrastructureA mix of on-premise and cloud services relying on one carrier.Hosted entirely in the cloud with redundant upstream carriers.
Ability to innovateSlow to innovate due to high capital costs for implementing new infrastructure.Faster innovation due to focus on software over hardware.
CustomizationInflexible. Small requests such as changing call routing require technical telephony expertise.Customized to your organization’s needs. Non-technical teammates can adjust it.
ScalabilityRequires new infrastructure and costly upgrades to scale.Scales to your company’s needs in real time.
Support for remote teamsMinimal. Remote employees don’t have access to the same tools and data.Comprehensive. Employees can communicate and collaborate from home using their own devices.
PricingUpfront costs for hardware, commercial leases, human capital, and license fee increases.Low setup and monthly costs that are ~50% less than most traditional systems.

No matter which type of enterprise communication solution you choose, implementing one is a significant project. Follow our guide for a helpful VoIP checklist to simplify the migration.

Now, let’s dive deeper into scalability and what that really means for larger companies.

Benefits of Unified Communications as an Enterprise Solution

As companies scale up, so do the demands for reliability and performance. Gone are the days of taking the office offline when switching telecom providers.

Advancements in cloud telephony provide firms with continuous and rock-solid business communications.

Enterprise-grade service providers offer more than fancy workflows and messaging tools. One exciting part of UCaaS has to be the admin interface. It makes it super simple to adjust user settings, speed up onboarding, and keep the workforce productive.

There are several notable advantages of unified communications for enterprises.

1) Makes collaboration more effective

The return to the office has been bumpy as of late. The New York Times reports that 54% of Manhattan employers are fully remote, with less than 10% in the office entirely. Moreover, the trend of hybrid workplaces heavily favors unified communications platforms.

Productivity and communication are symbiotic. Yet, enterprises often struggle with individuals and even entire departments being siloed. Communication breaks down. Teams end up in accidental competition.

Simply put, call forwarding isn’t a replacement for in-office collaboration.

A unified communications solution strengthens the bonds of communication. For example, people can engage their team with screen sharing, and the group can offer support (and links) in the chat.

The meeting notes can be shared asynchronously following a team meeting. This way, information flows more freely, and projects don’t get held up.

2) Supports a hybrid workforce

The pandemic has pushed most organizations to adapt to remote work. However, legacy telecom systems were never designed to be used outside the office. As a result, many employers now offer hybrid in-office and work-from-home options for their teams.

One of the best features of a unified communications solution is built-in remote work functionality. This benefit means less headache for IT, more connectivity — and more productivity.

The Nextiva App lets users call, attend meetings, and chat from any mobile device or computer.

3) Protects confidential information

Communication tools are one of the most vulnerable systems to cyberattacks. As such, spending on IT security is expected to reach $150 billion this year.

Unified communications help mitigate corporate data leaks and breaches. While no phone system is immune, VoIP is secure thanks to its call encryption achieved by TLS and SRTP. Plus, detailed call logs show how your company’s communications are used.

This security is especially important for healthcare providers. Select UCaaS providers like Nextiva offer HIPAA and SOC 2 compliance. Together, this increases client privacy and even lowers the firm’s insurance premiums.

4) Offers deep insights into business performance

How are inbound call volumes? Is the new IVR call flow working as expected? What about that new ad campaign? These questions can’t wait for clunky CSV exports.

This is where call analytics comes into play for larger organizations. Since the enterprise’s communications are under one roof, tracking call data is easier. It also can blend the data from other sources like CRMs or helpdesk tickets.

It should be worth mentioning that analytics functionality isn’t limited to administrators. Both technical and less savvy end-users can maneuver around data dashboards with ease. Anyone can see the company’s contact center performance.

The best part is this. A unified communications platform serves as a single source for business metrics. Department heads won’t ask, “Where’d you find that data?” since everyone sees it in real-time. Reducing uncertainty helps everyone focus on driving results.

Illustration showing call volume trends in the enterprise.
Nextiva lets you track custom contact center trends over time so you can chart a path to higher performance.

5) Facilitates personalized customer experiences

Customers today expect a positive customer experience every time they reach your employees. The reality is that doesn’t always happen.

A recent Gartner report found that 69% of communication tools don’t integrate with a CRM. You could be missing critical data that will improve the customer experience.

How can frontline agents impress customers if they don’t look at the same view of the customer?

Integrating UCaaS with your contact center could be the missing link. Why?

Contact center agents can see the vital signs the moment they access a customer’s account. This advantage preps them for any inbound calls, including a face-to-face meeting.

Example of a Call Pop notification.
Nextiva Call Pop displays actionable data the instant customers call.

6) Onboards (and transitions) employees faster

Employing an enterprise communication system isn’t just about replacing your aging infrastructure. Instead, it’s an opportunity to mature your processes for welcoming new hires and getting them going — fast.

Many workplaces let employees use approved business apps on existing devices. The smartphone makes it easy for them to connect with their teams virtually. It won’t consume much bandwidth and provides secure business messaging built-in.

And when it’s time to provide a desk phone, all they have to do is plug in the Ethernet wire, which will automatically set the device up. This feature enables new employees to get started right away.

7) Makes IT management’s job easier

Look around. The modern IT department has exploded in scope over the past couple of years. It can be exhausting to add a new communications tool to your responsibilities. We get it.

Unified Communications is meant to simplify the world of IT management. Since it operates in the cloud, you can manage it remotely. There aren’t any clunky Powershell scripts or commands to remember.

Nextiva’s UCaaS solution is made for the enterprise. End users can solve most of their needs on their own. And when they need your expertise, you can help them in minutes, not hours or days.

There are countless benefits to moving to the cloud, such as deep integrations with Microsoft Outlook and Teams, among others.

The NextivaONE App works on iPhone, Android, Mac, and Windows. And you won’t have to spend a year learning it.

Challenges With Enterprise Communications (+ Best Practices)

Managing enterprise communications means dealing with a ton of emails, messages, and notifications every day. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed trying to keep up.

The deluge of information flying around is no joke. Enterprise leaders must figure out how to manage it better. Otherwise, important things get lost in the noise.

👾 Information overload and managing noise

Employees today deal with a flood of messages through multiple channels like email, chat, notifications, etc. This constant influx naturally causes some information overload.

The toughest is making sure important information isn’t getting lost in all that noise.

Teams would benefit from deciding which communication channels are necessary versus those causing oversaturation.

🌐 Ensuring effective communication across diverse teams and locations

With remote employees and teams spread across locations, leaders must intentionally ensure everyone is looped in on key information.

Employees who feel out of the loop or disengaged should be checked in on to improve inclusion.

📈 Measuring the success of communication strategies

Enterprises need to assess whether their communications strategy is actually working. Are people consuming and understanding that company-wide email for example?

If engagement metrics demonstrate issues with certain channels, you need agility to switch gears and try something new.

📊 Continuous improvement and adaptation

There’s always room for improving how leaders connect with and inform their people.

If communication strategies remain static, collaboration, corporate culture, and productivity hurt over the long term. Regular evaluation and enhancements are necessary to thrive.

How To Select the Right Enterprise Communications Provider

Choosing the right enterprise communications provider is key to addressing a lot of the challenges above.

Switching your enterprise communications system is a big decision. It requires internal support and a clear strategy. The last thing you want is to pick a solution that does more harm than good.

Josh Harder, a former VP at Bessemer Venture Partners, summed it up best when he wrote, “In the enterprise, the plumbing is never as exciting as the fixtures.”

After helping thousands of companies make the switch, we’ve developed a framework for finding the right product:

Enterprise Communications Evaluation Process - Flowchart

Following this framework ensures you’ve done your due diligence and are well-prepared to make the switch.

1. Assess needs — Inventory your current and future communication needs

At a minimum, an enterprise communication platform has to be on par with your current needs. However, the ultimate goal of this project should be to achieve a better outcome.

An effective enterprise communications strategy is grounded in reality but focused on the future. Historical data and diverse anecdotes establish a clear understanding of needs and requirements.

2. Shortlist vendors — Ensure providers support your business needs

A list of features and future needs will help cut vendors that can’t meet your expectations. But features aren’t your only consideration.

Analysis by Gartner forecasts that 75% of enterprise users will not use a desk phone in 2024. This figure is up from 30% in 2020.

3. Check references — Examine reviews for a balanced perspective

Well-known brands are not necessarily the most innovative in the enterprise communications industry. For this reason, it’s challenging to pick a provider you trust and know will be around for the long term.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you’ll want to confirm they can handle an organization of your size. Here are key indicators you can use to assess the true quality of a service provider:

4. Get stakeholder support Avoid surprises early on

Any major technology overhaul needs to be grounded in a business need. You also need your champions internally to see it through.

Executives are busy. But getting them involved early on is key to your success.

McKinsey’s latest Global Survey found that top-performing organizations are nearly twice as likely to have senior leadership involved with technology investment initiatives.

Getting stakeholders on board helps make the business case so it doesn’t stall out later.

5. Run a proof of concept — Set up a real-world evaluation

The final step is to de-risk your choice by running a proof of concept (POC).

A POC is a smaller-scale project that allows you to see how a technology solution works for your enterprise’s needs.

Ideally, you’ll want to run what’s called a “lighthouse project.” It offers significant rewards with manageable risks. There are three ideal scenarios to try:

These proof-of-concept projects help you get a firm idea of the communications provider’s strengths. Assessing their support, reliability, and ease of use weighs on your decision to move forward.

A POC should run for at least four to eight weeks and include structured feedback. Discuss with your team to understand how these tools improve their workflows.

Accelerate Growth With an Enterprise Communication Solution

Every company relies on effective communication. Whether for smooth business operations, cross-department collaboration, or providing a superior customer experience.

When operating at scale, you need a provider that sets you up for future growth.

The right enterprise-grade solution like Nextiva unlocks your true potential. And when you upgrade, you’ll communicate better, work smarter, and grow faster.

Related: Enterprise Contact Center Solutions: Overview & Key Features

Time to adopt the wave of enterprise change.

Find an enterprise communications solution that reduces headaches.

Jory MacKay


Jory MacKay

Jory MacKay is a writer and editorial consultant for fast-growing companies, innovative creators, and media empires. He's helped multiple companies scale their content to millions of readers and has appeared everywhere from The New York Times to Lifehacker. You can find him taking his dog Lu for a walk in the forest or at jorymackay.com.

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