Unified Communications is as much a concept as it is a specific “thing.” It is not, in general, a fixed, singularly definable technology, although some vendors now offer proprietary platforms that work to create Unified Communications. It is easiest to understand Unified Communication in terms of its goal, which is to break down the barriers between communication channels so that we can switch from one channel to another within/during the same communication “event.” For example, you and I are emailing and decide to switch to voice, then pull in someone else and communicate via 3-way video. With Unified Communications we make those transitions without shutting down one channel and moving to another. Unified Communications strives to integrate our major communication channels, which are usually considered to include
- Presence – identifying your availability to communicate
- Voice : VoIP and mobile
- Audio conferencing – multiple voice
- Video conferencing
- Social media
Another example of Unified Communications would be once I see you are available–this is known as presence––I can leave you a v-mail and you could choose to access that message via text or email. The message could be sent along and received in any variation of the above channels, whichever was most appropriate for each of us at that particular moment. Ideally, we could communicate via all of these channels using a single platform. However, right now it is a relatively fluid product and requires specialized knowledge of the components that comprise a Unified Communications platform concept. If you are interested in exploring Unified Communications, contact a Managed Service Provider with strong experience in VoIP and Unified Communications.