Decoding UC - removing the confusion from Unified Communications

Every major IP communications vendor has a UC section on its website with hyperbolic statements like, “UC is changing the way you do business.” or “Reinvent your productivity capacity with UC!” Given the seeming proliferation of this term, potential UC customers rarely bring up the term.

Most people want to know about VoIP or IP phone systems or even business communications systems. Why? The term “UC” has been poorly defined by the industry and clouded by mixed marketing messages.

First, let’s define Unified Communications: UC is the merging of many different communication methods including voice, email, video, and instant messaging into one unified system.

To help further lift that fog of confusion, here are the 5 core benefits of UC for you and your company:

  1. Presence and Instant Messaging. Presence and instant messaging features allow organizations to stay connected in real-time, regardless of distance. Presence allows your users to update their personal status and make it visible across the organization in several different places; even if that user is on a mobile phone! Presence makes it very simple for receptionists and assistants to know who’s available and who’s busy by glancing at the computer screen or phone display. Ever wonder if a specific employee is in the building and working, or out of the office for the day? How about knowing the status of your employees who work at a remote site or out in the field? Many of today’s UC systems can publish status across several locations and platforms as well as have the ability to manage status in third-party instant messaging systems. Tired of sifting through thousands of emails? Instant messaging, or chat, can give your team a real-time method of communication that can significantly limit the minutiae of your Inbox by handling the day-to-day communication instantly.
  2. Unified Messaging. No longer will your users have to interact with at least three different pieces of software or devices to view their messages. Unified Messaging transforms email clients like Outlook, Gmail, and MacMail into the hub of all communication, including voicemail, email, faxes and even recorded phone calls! Have you received an important message and need to call that person back immediately? Unified Messaging gives users click-to-dial functionality with phone numbers readily available in the emails or from contact lists.
  3. Mobile Device Integration. UC systems allow mobile users the ability to communicate with tools that are just as powerful as those available to internal users. Mobile apps allow for a user to have number connectivity, or the ability to have calls find them regardless of where they happen to be working. Easy access to voicemail and company directories arm your remote employees with information and tools to be more productive than ever before. Today’s mobile features also allow for companies to protect their brand by ensuring that no matter what device is used, the companies caller ID information is passed to the client even when an employee is dialing out from their smartphone.
  4. Video and Collaboration Integration. The demand for video communications is increasing rapidly. UC systems allow for integration with web conferencing systems, point-to-point video calls, and audio conferencing.
  5. Third-party Integration. Truly advanced UC systems allow companies to think outside the box with their communication platforms, and integrate with their CRM, ERP, or other information systems. Imagine being able to have your CRM records, or other customer or client database records appear on the computer monitor or phone display when that caller calls into your office? How much better armed will your employees be to help that customer quickly and effectively?