How Important Is Unified Communication In Today’s Business?


In today’s increasingly hyperconnected and hypercompetitive world, businesses need to excel at communications and collaboration – otherwise, they risk missing out on potential growth opportunities and falling behind their competition. Unified communications (UC) solutions can enable organizations to not only improve collaboration, but enhance worker productivity and customer service. These solutions provide effective ways for people to constantly keep in touch – regardless of location or communications device. One of the most efficient delivery models for UC is cloud computing, which is fast becoming the IT delivery mechanism of choice for enterprises today.

The term “unified communications” can mean different things to different people, and various definitions exist in the market. This can create confusion for IT and business decision-makers, particularly because of the multiple approaches and solutions available. In general, UC solutions encompass the following key elements and capabilities

6 Key Components of Unified Communications

1. Collaboration

Collaboration has become increasingly important — and challenging — for organizations as workers become more widespread geographically. UC systems should enable users to collaborate with one another in a variety of ways.

2. Presence

Presence enables individuals to manage their availability and make better communication decisions. Users can see who is available and choose the most appropriate communication medium. This saves time, especially within highly distributed businesses. For example, users who see that the person they are trying to reach is on the phone can send an instant message.

3. Unified Messaging

UC solutions also include unified messaging, which is the integration of voicemail, fax, email, instant messaging and other electronic media used for messaging users. Messages can be retrieved from the interface of their choice, whether it be the email client, UC client or over the phone, and users can see their messages to prioritize which ones they will listen to first.

4. Mobility

For today’s mobile workers, an important feature of UC is support for mobility, so that users can access features on any device, and from any location. Given the rapid increase in the mobile workforce and the “bring-your-own-device” trend, support for mobile technology is especially critical for today’s UC platforms. Another key consideration for UC with regard to mobility is fixed mobile convergence, which allows users to access data, voice or video services and information without concern for how the services are delivered by telecommunications carriers. With fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), communications can be delivered to users over fixed, wireless (Wi-Fi) or mobile/cellular networks, automatically switching to the most cost-effective and highest quality network available as users change location.

5. Contact Center

UC solutions can significantly improve contact center environments to enhance service and deliver operational efficiency. They enable companies to serve their customers in the medium of their choice (for example, voice, email, Web chat or SMS); monitor and respond to social media; keep customers well-informed, providing estimated wait-time messages and continuous position-in-queue updates; and provide self-service options with interactive voice response.

UC also allows contact center agents to be located anywhere and to leverage presence to find other available resources in the organization that they can collaborate with to resolve customer issues on first contact.

6. Integration with Other Business Applications

Most UC solutions can integrate with third-party business applications to deliver business process improvement. For example, integration with customer relationship management (CRM) solutions will provide a pop-up of customers’ information when they call, so that they can be provided with the best, personalized service. The cloud provides particularly innovative opportunities on this front, with mash-ups that include UC, because applications are more easily accessed in the cloud than when they are located on an enterprise’s premises.