Unified communications solutions are becoming more common in the enterprise market, allowing businesses to bring together a number of disparate platforms and enable staff to use them to collaborate more effectively across a range of devices.
The ultimate aim of a truly unified communications solution is to make organisations more efficient, whilst simultaneously improving productivity. As mobile and remote working become increasingly common, UC can empower organisations that want staff across disparate locations and offices to continue to benefit from a single cohesive communications network as the traditional boundaries of the workplace are dismantled.
Defining Unified Communications
For businesses looking to embrace UC solutions, the first step on the way to adoption is actually defining the boundaries of this type of technology, which can be tricky.
HP’s Danette Hardin describes UC in the context of globalisation, with businesses from all countries and continents needing to collaborate and engage with one another while relying on a diverse array of platforms to do so.
“New methods of communications and messaging tools are everywhere. From smartphones, laptops, e-mail to voice mail to instant messaging, text messaging and video conferencing, there’s a technology to meet every need. But these technologies aren’t designed to work together. With UCC, you can consolidate voice and data communications into a common network and retire legacy telephony systems to decrease the cost of voice communications.”
Whether it is email and instant messaging, VoIP or video conferencing, Unified Communications is all about enabling different communication platforms and devices to operate in the same networking environment and software ecosystem to pare down the complexity which might otherwise exist.
UC solutions are typically provided to businesses by third parties, with the option to either host the infrastructure on-site or allow it to exist in the cloud. And it is as a result of this choice of set-ups that real efficiencies and cost savings can be gleaned.
Another important facet of UC solutions is the fluidity of the user experience, which means that colleagues can move from a text or voice conversation to holding a web conference with full video support with just a few clicks.
This is not just functionality that is limited to in-house workstations either, since UC users can leave their desks and head out in the field while still having access to VoIP calls and even video capabilities on a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer.
While UC solutions can come from one vendor or many, the main way that efficiency is achieved is by bridging the gaps between each platform in a manner that to the user seems seamless. Of course, from the point of view of interoperability and planning for UC adoption, it is important to consider whether the multi-vendor route is sensible or even possible.
Staff at all levels can benefit from adoption, even in small and medium-sized enterprises where there may be fewer users of a particular platform. But proper planning is essential to making the process of migrating to UC effective.
In a business environment time is money, so any system that allows staff to work more effectively with the resources they have available can have a significant positive impact. When it comes to UC, the efficiency on offer is not just present in day-to-day communications but also in the way that colleagues, clients and partners can collaborate.
With a modern UC solution, it is no longer necessary to hold face-to-face meetings during which all parties occupy the same geographic location, since this type of environment can be fostered in the digital space and still deliver excellent levels of engagement and communication. So staff need not spend hours or days travelling long distances, and the business can better allocate its human resources.
From streamlining communications to managing mobility and remote working, UC solutions are helping businesses to face the challenges of today.