An Elementary Introduction to Unified Communications

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Apr 25, 2014 1:38:00 PM

An Elementary Introduction to Unified Communications

The unbelievable speed with which technology has progressed in the past few years has likely forced many small business owners' heads to spin, especially when it comes to unified communications and cloud services. Although these services, solutions and tools have become far more intuitive and accessible in a relatively short period of time, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain a strong understanding of what each can be used for and what the various industries include. 

Unified communications is an umbrella term that represents a variety of equipment, support frameworks, integration processes and much more, while it is also gaining esteem for being one of the more progressive advances in terms of collaboration tools. Businesses continue to flood into the global marketplace amid the rise of electronic commerce and easier paths toward exporting products, and this has catalyzed demand for affordable tools that drive efficient and reliable communications. 

By first understanding what the company can expect to get out of a robust UC strategy that is delivered by a proven vendor, deployment of each utility therein will be far more streamlined and consistent over time, leading to even more positive experiences and higher returns on investment. As such, the following list breaks down the various components of UC that are now found in the average workplace that has modernized its communications frameworks. 

VoIP
Business phone services were among the first aspects of traditional corporate communication systems to be refined by new technology. Voice over Internet Protocol phones are now widely used by small and medium-sized businesses in countless industries and virtually every region of the globe. Put simply, these phone systems leverage the affordability and reliability of Internet Protocol to ensure the most efficient voice plans possible. 

In terms of deployment, the average business will rarely have to make major adjustments to internal infrastructure, and only purchase the equipment that comes with fewer long-term costs than traditional phone plans would yield. VoIP phone systems are also the most common first deployment for companies that are beginning a comprehensive UC overhaul. 

Instant messaging
We live in the era of the instant message, and these traditionally fun and light-hearted types of communications are now some of the more popular channels for corporate communications among employees and with clientele. As such, companies have largely worked to adopt the service necessary to manage these chats and other messages, especially considering the fact that many will fall under the authority of regulatory compliance in certain sectors. 

Unified messaging services within a UC strategy will bolster the efficiency of monitoring and management responsibilities, all the while enhancing the experience of end users to strengthen productivity. Emoticons are not always involved in the contracts, so check with your service provider on that if you want to make your employees truly happy. 

Video conferencing
Another early development in the UC arena, video conferencing tools have helped companies minimize travel expenditures in the globalized market economy, all the while improving the speed with which staff members can collaborate internally and with clientele. Similarly too VoIP and unified messaging, video conferencing will generally require minimal adjustments to existing network architecture and IT frameworks. 

Considering how commonly devices have video cameras, as well as the ubiquity of projectors in conference rooms at the average office, these solutions are relatively easy to deploy and can be functional within a very short time frame following the initial investment. Furthermore, companies have been using these tools to conduct interviews with applicants who are not located nearby, as well as various other components of everyday workplace management. 

Mobility considerations
One would be hard-pressed to find a company that is not at least entering into the early stages of enterprise mobility strategy creation, as the on-the-go employees is now more common across a variety of vertical markets. When unified communications strategies are already in place and the necessary tools deployed, mobility can become a more robust driver of productivity and engagement among employees. 

Each of the three aforementioned components of UC can now be accessed and utilized through smartphones, tablets and portable computers, which can give employees a consistent experience whether they are at their desks or in the field. Put quite simply, mobile UC is the way of the future, helping the world to realize the predictions contained within legendary movies such as Total Recall. 

Bundling and cloud, for the win!
More businesses are beginning to take a single-vendor approach to UC provisioning, as the alternative will generally lead to interoperability issues and place extraneous strain on the average IT department. Additionally, when using a vendor that offers cloud services, as well as UC solutions that are based in these virtualized environments, the business will be more likely to enjoy enhanced cost control and productivity benefits over time. 

Experts continue to assert that purchasing bundled packages for IT and UC deployments is the right path to travel when modernizing the workplace. 

Topics: Tech Advice