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What is Unified Communications?

Updated: July 8, 2014

Unified Communications (UC) describes the integration of different business telecommunication and messaging tools across a single network. It’s your office phone, mobile, email, voicemail, instant messaging, voice and video conferencing, fax and presence all working together to your advantage.

UC bridges real-time and deferred communication technologies to improve user-experience, productivity and overall efficiency. It creates a new level of simplicity and control across all of your office telecommunication tools, from IP phones right through to specialized software.

How Does Unified Communications (UC) Work?

UC is technically a network architecture that connects diverse applications across a single business network and offers access to each from a single user-interface. It’s as if all of your applications came from a single program.

The precise architecture that makes a Unified Communications platform possible is offered to businesses looking for new ways to enhance productivity, efficiency and a gain a sustainable competitive advantage. UC is most commonly discussed as a cloud or telecommunications service, sometimes referred to as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).

In some cases, the provider offers the ability to integrate programs from different sources, like off-the-shelf software and open-source platforms. More commonly, especially at the enterprise level, UC is a business communications environment offered by single provider with a robust platform. The various telecom tools are already integrated and then offered on a single platform.

What to expect from a UC experience

Depending on your daily routine, UC can have an amazing impact on a variety of business activities. It combines a number of traditional functions to make office life easier and encourage communication and collaboration.

A New Level of Control

Missing a Call

Missing a call takes on a whole new meaning in the context of UC. incoming calls are routed to your various devices, eventually finding your voicemail. A snippet of the voicemail can then be sent right to your email inbox. You then have information on the call available at all of your work stations.

Taking a Call

UC gives you the option to take a call however you want. With all your devices and options working together you can take transfer calls seamlessly between your computer, smartphone and IP phone. Calls can also be turned into video conferences at the click of a button without ending the call and switching over to Skype or Hangouts.

Choosing What Works

UC also allows you to easily manage which incoming channels you want to keep open. Calls can go right to your voicemail if you’re too busy to talk. Or it may be more beneficial to get talking about something rather than deal with more emails and instant messages.

Passive Connectivity

Presence has been around for over a decade on many mainstream messaging platforms. We’ve all used it on platforms like Facebook, Gmail or Skype when we set our status to busy, away or online. Presence is your status for your entire platform, indicating your current availability across many of the office tools.

It is “passive connectivity” because it works as a signpost to anyone on the network who needs to know your availability and how they might reach you.

Communications That Communicate

A bit less visible than all the ways people can connect on a UC network are the ways that your tools can connect. One great example is an integrated voice system and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. This allows your phone system to push caller information and lead insights to your CRM and vice versa.

Sales and marketing teams can save plenty of time on coordinating information by having the programs and apps share it automatically.

Another example is switching between a phone call and a collaboration tool. If the collaboration software recognizes the caller ID then the callers’ information carries over into the data recording the collaboration activity. When you look back at the document, there is no question of who was active and contributing and how to reach them again if need be.

The Growth of Unified Communication.

UC technology has became amazingly accessible and affordable with new broadband, cloud and IP technologies on the market. And just in the knick of time.

Companies of all sizes are experiencing the pros and cons of having too many different communication tools. UC remedies this by consolidating the functionality and integrating the platforms into one easy to use and easy to manage business communications environment.

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