Unified Communications Featured Article

How to Make Unified Communications Work for You

December 04, 2008

Unified Communications… it’s a term that has become widely popular during the past 18 months or so, with significant momentum provided by Microsoft’s OCS launch a little over a year ago.

Since then, nearly every VoIP provider and equipment maker has shifted focus — or at least its vernacular — to reflect the industry’s focus on extending communications beyond traditional boundaries created by device, network, and location. The struggle, however, has been coming to an agreement on a definition of Unified Communications.
The truth is, despite the variations in definition — which are often based on a provider's capabilities or a customer's specific needs — UC isn’t all that complicated conceptually. At its heart, it is merely an extension of communications beyond the devices, the networks, and the physical location of users, which have for ages constrained our communications capabilities. It is the ability to provide real-time delivery of communications, independent of these elements, but dependent on availability and preference.
It also includes any number of communications media available today — IM, voice, video, email, voicemail, SMS, document sharing, conferencing, and more. It also includes availability, or presence, information, which enables users to identify preferred modes of communication based on caller, time of day, day of the week, location, meeting times, and so on.
The key is that while many businesses are already using several of these capabilities, unified communications integrates all these formerly disparate communications systems, creating a more efficient network and ultimately embedding UC functionality directly into business applications, driving business process enhancements by reducing communications latency, increasing collaboration, reducing costs, and driving customer satisfaction.
So, yes, while the technology and the interoperability testing that goes into a unified communication platform and associated hardware may be complex, the concept is quite simple — and it should be simple to understand for businesses.
To help answer the question, “What it Unified Communications?” — only after which can businesses understand if it is the right approach for their communications needs — TMC recently hosted a Webinar, sponsored by Avaya, called, “Making Unified Communications Relevant for your Business.”
Dr. Brent Kelly, Senior Analyst and Partner at Wainhouse Research, which specializes in unified communications applications and enabling infrastructure research, joined the Director of Avaya’s Unified Communications Consulting Practice Shane Yu for this hour-long session devoted to explaining UC and how to determine an appropriate approach to adoption.
The two discussed proven, repeatable methodologies from real deployment experience that any business can used to determine the applicability of UC for their particular practice. The discussion included not only the benefits and features of UC solutions, but specific examples from user surveys and customer use cases, offering valuable insight into how adopters of UC perceive their new communications opportunities.
In addition, because the hallmark of Unified Communications solutions is the ability to create more efficient business environment through enhanced communications capabilities, Kelly and Yu described how businesses can integrate new technology into the core of their business processes.
Finally, following their informative presentation, Kelly and Yu took part in a lively Q&A session that proved as valuable as their prepared remarks themselves.
If you’re considering deploying a Unified Communications solution, if you’re trying to decide which solution to deploy, or if you simply are looking for valuable information on the benefits of UC for future reference, this is a presentation you need to make time for. 
To prepare your business to make the jump to Unified Communications, view the archived Webinar here.
For more exciting events from unified communications about Unified Communications, as well as a variety of other aspects of today’s developing communications landscape, visit unified communications Webinars.

Erik Linask is Group Managing Editor of unified communications, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to nearly 3,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask

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