Unified Communications (UC)
Unified communications (UC) enables users to handle all the communications they use in the office through a single or integrated solution. This includes such methods as telephony, voicemail, e-mail, SMS, fax, instant messaging, presence information, video conferencing, call control and speech recognition. UC offers a single user interface and stores all messages in a single storage area. It may be a single offering from a single vendor or it may be multiple offerings all integrated together.
Unified communications lets workers send messages in one format and receive them in another. For instance, users can receive a fax and choose to have it changed from an image to readable text through optical character recognition (OCR) and then to either hear it as a voice mail or read it as an email. This means that faxes can be accessed on a simple cell phone.
Although the terms unified communications and unified messaging are both vague, generally, what unified communications refers to is the integration of the entire span of communications, whereas unified messaging refers to the ability to send and receive email, voice mail and fax. Some people say that unified messaging only covers store-and-forward communications while unified communications covers real-time communications too, but Davidson Consulting considers fax a real-time communication mode.
Unified communications includes any the following: unified messaging, call control, presence, instant messaging, speech access, conferencing, personal assistant, collaboration tools, mobility, voice communications, and a user interface that completes the integration. Presence, which lets a caller know where the recipient is and their status of availability, is a key factor in unified communications solutions.
While unified communications can improve worker’s productivity, the bigger gains come when using unified communications capabilities to computer-enhance business processes (CEBP). CEBP is made possible by linking unified communications functionality directly to the applications using software development kits (SDK). This way, the unified communications capabilities are automatically triggered rather than having the user initiate each task.
Unified communications aids businesses in quickening information delivery and giving users the breadth of communications so they can better reach their intended recipients. Unified communications also makes it possible for workers to collaborate with suppliers and clients, for example to conference with them. Unified communications also frees workers to be wherever they need to be and still be in touch with the world. Still, unified communications can be complicated.
Leaders in unified communications are Cisco and Avaya. Cisco Unified Communications is an enterprise-class IP telephony call-processing system that provides traditional telephony features as well as advanced capabilities, such as mobility, presence, preference, and rich conferencing services. This call processing solution simplifies voice systems by replacing old PBX (private branch exchange) and key systems with unified communications, so businesses can cut costs and dramatically streamline provisioning and maintenance.
Avaya Unified Communications solutions eliminate phone tag and other inefficiencies to make organizations more productive and responsive. Users can reply to email with a voice call or voice mail or turn an instant messaging session into a conference call. They can answer their desk phone from the airport.