Today’s technology allows us to work from virtually anywhere. Unified communications erases the distance between your employees, partners and customers by helping individuals engage with each other and work together from different ends of a building—or the world.
What is unified communications?
Unified communications is a business solution composed of communication tools and services that facilitate conversation, collaboration and productivity across multiple devices, platforms and applications. Integrating communication technologies and services—such as instant messaging, audio web and video conferencing, email, mobility tools and more—allows individuals and groups to interact easily, coordinate tasks and share information in real time and non-real time, regardless of whether they’re mobile or working from a fixed location.
Don’t assume that unified communications and voice over internet protocol (VoIP)—the technology that lets you make and receive calls over the internet—are the same. While VoIP is a fundamental component of UC, the two are distinct. Communication with coworkers, partners and customers typically don’t take place just over the phone. Unified communications is a company-wide communication solution that refers to a broad suite of products, including call features.
When unified communications is combined with collaboration services such as audio, video and net conferencing and tools like virtual whiteboards, the solution is referred to as unified communications and collaboration (UCC). The terms unified communications and unified communications and collaboration are sometimes used interchangeably because current service providers typically offer both communication and collaboration services.
What are the benefits of unified communications?
Unified communications unifies all of your communication tools and services into a single system, incorporating all of the mobility, presence (the ability to see in real time if someone is available) and contact capabilities you have within your enterprise. Technology allows your employees, customers, partners and suppliers to communicate with each other using several channels. So, having a unified communicatons solution can:
- Simplify workflow
- Reduce travel
- Improve response times
- Control costs
As a result, your organization should be better positioned to enhance collaboration, increase staff productivity and foster innovation.
How do unified communications work?
Unified communications solutions may include some of the following:
- Call control (voice and video calling)
- Audio, web and video conferencing
- Screen sharing
- File sharing
- Instant or text (SMS) messaging
- Speech recognition
- Other communication and collaboration products and services
With unified communications, all of your enterprise communication tools work as one unit. For example, imagine a customer calls after business hours and leaves you a voicemail. A UC solution could translate the voicemail to an email message and send it to you. Once you receive the email, you can check the person’s presence information. If the person is available and willing to talk, you then could call or email the individual to resolve the issue quickly. This example uses three systems—voicemail, email and VoIP—using UC to unify the programs so that they work together.
A big advantage of unified communications is that it lets your employees communicate securely in a way that best suits their situation, even when they’re away from their desks and during non-business hours. By giving employees more flexibility in how they communicate, unified communications helps improve efficiency and reduce reliance on a single communication tool or device.
What are my options for delivering unified communications?
Unified communications is designed to facilitate efficient communication using a solution made available through an enterprise’s on-premises equipment, or from the cloud.
When the solution is delivered from the cloud—referred to as unified communications as a service (UCaaS) or unified communications and collaboration as a service (UCCaaS)—it typically frees up capital, because companies don’t need to make investments in complex communications infrastructure. Instead of purchasing capabilities that go undeployed, UCaaS and UCCaaS give companies the flexibility to add features and services quickly as their business grows or as technology evolves.
Verizon UCCaaS uses open application programming interfaces (APIs) to allow you to integrate web-based and third-party communication and collaboration applications from different vendors, such as Microsoft Outlook or Salesforce. Because you can choose from different service packages based on a per-user, per-month basis—you limit your expenditures by only buying the communication services you need when you need them.
Ultimately, by integrating communication tools, unified communications leaves your organization in a better position to enhance collaboration, increase staff productivity, respond to customers to improve their satisfaction, foster innovation and control costs even as technology evolves.