Unified Communications Featured Article

What is Unified Communications?

December 09, 2014

Businesses today are held to a high communication standard. While in the past, businesses could provide basic company phone extensions and email and be done with it, now there is growing demand for a wide range of communication solutions and applications, including email, SMS, instant messaging, video and voice conferencing, and fax, and remote access to them all. In order to pull all these channels together in a cohesive and efficient system, unified communications was born.

In the enterprise world, the term “unified communications” generally refers to a business system that ties together many communication technologies and tools. These technologies are designed and packaged to be grouped, and are supported by a single communications platform. With a unified communications (UC) solution, companies are able to integrate their data, video, voice and more to bring about smoother communication across all channels, facilitate greater collaboration, limit communication errors and discrepancies, and in many cases provide workers with remote access.

By integrating these interactive systems into a larger whole, businesses can enjoy real-time or near real-time communication through a unified desktop interface. This means that an employee can access or initiate communication by email, phone, SMS or unified messaging at the click of a button. UC solutions hosted in the cloud provide remote workers with access to the same data and tools as their in-office counterparts, and applications can be downloaded on smartphones and other mobile devices to offer access on the go. This also allows businesses to support bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives; by giving staff members the option to use personal devices of their choosing, businesses can be sure that each employee will be able to work from a device he or she is comfortable using, ensuring greater work efficiency.    

It’s clear that UC systems not only bring together communication channels, but devices as well. As described above, users can access their work accounts and service features from their personal mobile devices, laptops, as well as their traditional desktop computers. But there is more to UC than simply communication tools. In recent years, these solutions have evolved to include other interactive and shared systems such as scheduling, workflow, and voice response systems, and today developers are working to link UC with universal systems such as WebRTC. 

Edited by Alisen Downey

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