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What does Unified Communications mean?

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Published 31-Jan-2017 18:55:27
What does Unified Communications mean?
 

You’ve probably heard the phrases ‘unified communications’ or ‘UC’ floating around, but do we know what it actually means?

According to the current entry on Wikipedia it’s a ‘marketing buzzword’ – which immediately raises the usual suspicions about the IT industry and its way with words. But we think that entry does something of a disservice to what is actually a very practical and useful development in the modern technological maelstrom.

Gartner’s definition is probably much more reliable:

“Unified communications products (equipment, software and services) facilitate the interactive use of multiple enterprise communications methods. This can include control, management and integration of these methods. UC products integrate communications channels (media), networks and systems, as well as IT business applications and, in some cases, consumer applications and devices.”

In other words, UC is about stuffing lots of different, useful comms down the same pipes, in real time, at the same time.

The evolution and benefits of UC

The way we communicate is constantly changing, and the introductions of VoIP, instant messaging and easy video conferencing have been among the great internet revolutions. It’s become effortless to interact with others; if someone told you 30 years ago you could speak to someone on the other side of the world via the internet it might have raised a few eyebrows, so imagine what we could be capable of in the next 30 years.

Now that your phone calls and instant messaging are using a shared connection it may be time to consider looking at a UC solution, as the backbone of any good UC solution is a strong VoIP system. With UC, no matter how many applications your user is running they will remain in control. Less confusion managing separate applications means more seamless communication, leading to outstanding customer service and increased productivity.

If you’re a sceptic, here’s some evidence that shows video conferencing and UC really do cut travel costs, for example. As well as making decision-making more efficient, with fewer errors, organisations save money by reducing spend on different communication channels.

From a customer service perspective, making your users more reachable gives your customers the ability to get instant access to your team. If they call and can’t get through, they may be able to send an instant message, therefore eliminating the need for voicemail, which we can all agree is a bonus in any industry.

UC or UCC?

At Vohkus we often refer to UCCunified communications and collaboration – because the technology is all about making people, systems and services more productive than if they operated in isolation.

One of the most exciting development of recent years has been that you’re not forced to manage your UCC system yourself. It’s becoming increasingly common for organisations to source their UCC as a cloud-hosted solution rather than running it in house.

We run our own managed, hosted UCC service ourselves, as it happens, covering messaging, email, video conferencing, document management, mobile devices plus cellular data and voice. This has several advantages, such as:

  • Rapid deployment timescales compared with an on site solution.
  • No need for capital investment, as you only pay for users accessing the service.
  • Access to standard web-based services or full desktop applications.
  • Seamless integration enabling true unified communications between all devices (landline, mobile, desktop and tablet).
  • Makes use of existing IP network to avoid costs for inter-site communication.

However, if you’re not comfortable with a solution hosted solely in the cloud, you can always adopt a hybrid model split between on-premises and cloud-managed services.

One size doesn’t fit all

If you’re selecting UC/UCC products or services, it’s important to be aware of exactly what is included. Major names are pushing their UC offerings hard these days, and all claim to offer something that the others don’t. In truth, you might not need that something – or you may even need something else.

At Vohkus, our consultants are fully immersed in the brave new UC world. They can provide impartial, objective advice and help you evaluate and choose the solution that’s right for your organisation.

UC can drive down costs, improve productivity and secure the loyalty of even more customers if it’s done properly. Let us show you how.

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