Have you heard of the term Unified Communications before? Curious as to what Unified Communications is all about? Read on to find out what it is and what it can do for your business.
Because of continued improvements in technology and changes in the way people work, we now have a multitude of options to communicate with one another. This can be both a boon and a curse, as not only do we have to learn and master a variety of devices from which to communicate—but also contend with an equal or higher number of forms with which to communicate. For example, not only do we make a phone call to talk nowadays, but we also chat, text, tweet, post, like, poke, huddle, share screens, do white board sessions, and more. We can do all of these whether on the desktop computer, laptop, netbook, tablet, desk phone, mobile phone, TV – and soon maybe even from the kitchen refrigerator! Not surprisingly, people have started looking for ways to tame and simplify all of this complexity—and thus was born the concept of "Unified Communications."
Unified Communications, simply stated, encompasses the organization of different communication tools and models so that it can be used and managed in an integrated way, with the goal of improving flexibility, efficiency, and effectiveness. To illustrate the benefits of Unified Communications, here are some examples of how it can be used in several business scenarios:
- Have a "single number to call" or a simpler way of reaching people. Instead of remembering and sharing a phone number, IM handle, email address, twitter account, and more, you can have just one number or address by which people can reach you—and systems will bridge that with whatever device or application your Unified Communications happen to be on or you prefer. So you can easily have calls placed to your desk phone routed to your mobile phone when you are out, and have voice mail emailed to you as a recording in case you can't answer.
- Reaching people when you need them. If you are working remotely, or managing remote workers, Unified Communications systems can indicate your or your colleagues' location or "presence"—i.e., whether you or they are available at the normal location, working remotely, or out in the field.
- Synchronous or asynchronous way of working. If you work with people in different time zones you can opt to conference when your schedules overlap, or swap messages that can be answered at their convenience if they don't —and be able to track and tie all of these together.
- Richer collaboration. If you work on projects, Unified Communications can allow you or your team to get in touch and collaborate in a richer and more interactive way. While working on a project you can chat, switch to voice calls for better clarity, or conference via video to provide more context, as well as share screens for easier collaboration—all from a single screen or session.
- Application integration. Imagine if you had the ability to call people from your email application's address book, or initiate a web conference from your instant messaging tool. With Unified Communications that is all possible.