What is Unified Communications?
Unified communications (UC) encompasses all the equipment, software and services used to enable and enhance collaboration across an enterprise.
Specifically, it provides a means for users to communicate, share ideas, and work together. UC includes but are not limited to voice calls, video calls, messaging, voicemail, and content sharing.
It is important to note UC and collaboration seem synonymous, since there is some overlap between collaboration and unified communications, but they are different because Collaboration generally builds and relies on UC.
UC technology offers an end-user the ability to switch seamlessly from one mode of communication to another within a single session, no matter if you are on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and/or smartphone.
It facilitates the integration of software in both real-time communications, like voice over IP, and instant messaging or chat which are asynchronous communications. This gives the end- user immediate access to all relevant tools in a consistent environment, from any physical location and digital device.
This environment is typically supported by a back-end management system, commonly referred to as a platform, that handles integration to the front-end application that is displayed to the end-user.
Unified communications offerings have an ever growing presence in the marketplace and provide web embedded options, rather than a standalone application, to the system administrator.
Why Use Unified Communications?
One of the main reasons to utilize unified communications is the fact it integrates multiple applications across multiple devices or communication mediums.
As stated above, being able to quickly transition from a laptop to a mobile phone while still working on the same task or project allows the end-user to be efficient and productive.
Furthermore, since communications are unified, the end-user experience is enhanced through the seamless integration of multiple different applications.
For example, while on a web conference call the end-user may call up a virtual whiteboard to diagram a solution to a customer or coworker.
Another major benefit of UC is, like collaboration, it enables a remote and flexible workforce. Through the use of UC technologies your workforce can communicate effectively across the digital workspace while staying physically separate.
Finally UC technology will allow companies to reduce cost.
Unified communications offerings are moving to the cloud which allows for an increase in the digital footprint while decreasing the need for physical equipment and rack space on premise.