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A guide to unified communications solutions: beyond VoIP and video

Author: Phil Muncaster

Communication is the heart of every successful business. But as remote work gains in popularity and digital solutions become more readily available, how do your employees stay connected with their peers and your customers?

Today more than ever, organizations need unified communications solutions (UC) to support productivity and growth. But before you commit resources and implement a UC system, you should know what to look for and which system is right for you.

The what and why of unified communications

Poor communications can result in delayed or incomplete projects, low employee morale, missed performance goals and lost sales. UC solutions offer an integrated platform that helps employees quickly and easily communicate with co-workers, customers, and the wider partner ecosystem. But these systems go beyond voice and video and include collaboration tools that enable employees to work together no matter where they're located.

As remote work becomes more prevalent, the need for effective communication and collaboration grows every day. Delivering unified communications solutions via the cloud is a rapidly growing trend as the cloud helps minimize upfront CapEx, deployment, and maintenance costs. In fact, according to Grand View Research, the UC market is expected to reach $167 billion by 2025, with a five-year CAGR of nearly 17% compared to 2019.

More than voice and video

So, what can you expect to find in a typical UC solution? The foundation of most UC solutions is VoIP (voice calls made over the internet), but users are increasingly keen to add video conferencing capabilities to VoIP so that they can see and hear with whom they're speaking.

Other components of unified communications solutions include:

  • Instant messaging (IM)/chat
  • Messaging, including voicemail and email
  • Collaboration, including file-sharing and screen-sharing
  • Real-time presence (indicates when another user is working on a document)
  • Scheduling
  • Whiteboarding
  • Workflow tools (helps automate business processes)

Partnering for SD WAN success

The key to achieving maximum business benefits—such as increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction and a maximized return on your investment—from unified communications solutions is to ensure all UC features are neatly integrated. Ideally, employees can launch the communications and collaboration tool they need via a single user interface from any device wherever they are—which is where a single-vendor, cloud-based solution has the advantage.

Understand that not all UC platforms are created equal. For example, Verizon One Talk is a mobile-first unified communications solution that seamlessly connects in-office, remote, and mobile workers. BlueJeans, also by Verizon, is a video conferencing collaboration platform that combines cloud-based VoIP, audio and web conferencing as well as integrations with popular third-party business apps.