Unified Communications (UC) is a framework for incorporating various real-time and asynchronous communication tools, with the aim of improving business communication, productivity and collaboration. UC does not represent a singular technology; instead, it explains an interrelated system of enterprise communication applications and devices that can be used successively or in performance.
Some business communication tools, such as Internet Protocol video chat and telephony – enable real-time communication, also referred to as synchronous communication. Other enterprise communication tools, such as email, assist communication that occurs at a person’s convenience.
Increasingly, team collaboration tools have sprung up to provide messaging-centric workflows and near real-time communication. Such tools offer audio and video facilities, API integrations, and expound on instant-messaging services by offering more stout UC features.
Unified Communications aims to incorporate the software that accommodates asynchronous and synchronous communication, so the end user has quick access to all tools from whichever device he or she is using.
How Unified Communications Works
A unified communications environment is usually supported by one or more back-end networks, typically known as UC platforms that allow for integration among services and front-end clients that offer access. For instance, a web-conferencing system would utilize an audio conferencing system, which in turn will be structured on a primary IP telephony platform – and a unified messaging client will allow click-to-chat, click-to-video, or click-to-talk functionality.
Unified Communications also supports users switching from one mode of communication to the next within the same session. For instance, a user might start communicating through email but then decide to heighten the communication to real-time communication, moving the session to an audio call with a single click and then to a video-chat with another click without an interception.
Unified communications components and systems can be installed in a private or public cloud, on-premises, or a combination of all three. Cloud-hosted UC is also called Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). An open source projected known as WebRTC allows real-time communication to be rooted in web browsers.
Historically, single-vendor Unified Communications environments have shown the most solid compatibility and integration. Interoperability among these vendors stays an ongoing challenge in UC, but it has been lessened, in part, thanks to common protocols, partnerships, and open APIs.
Conventional (Analog) PBXs are going obsolete. IP based phone networks bring opportunities for new capabilities for new operations that haven’t been possible and will allow “Unified Communications” in the coming future. You need to be aware of what those features are as part of your selection process for a PBX substitute, specifically if your PBX is old.
What Does Unified Communications Encompass?
Just about anything related to communication can be integrated with UC, the most common ones include:
- Unified multimedia and messaging services, which include voice communication in all its forms, email, voicemail, fax and other kinds of multimedia elements, such as animations, pictures, video, etc.
- Real-time Communication – Real-time systems comprise of getting instant response and processing after input. Examples include conferencing, instant messaging, call screening, paging, etc.
- Data services. This comprises of data delivery, such as online services, web information, etc.
- Transactions – This includes online transactions, via the web or otherwise, such as enterprise apps, online banking, e-commerce, etc.
On the back end, a powerful communication structure may consist of the following features:
- A single or multivendor Unified Communications server or platform
- A conventional, cloud-based or IP PBX (Private Branch Exchange)
- Devices like headsets, phones, microphones, and cameras, which are also user-facing tools.
- An MCU (multipoint control unit), or video bridge, for video conferencing with 3 or more endpoints.
Benefits of Unified Communications
By allowing users to collaborate and communicate users more intuitively and flexibly, Unified brings along the following benefits:
- Mobility – Users who are dependent on flexibility in connection can stay connected with others via wireless IP handsets or softphones even when they are not present in the office or home.
- Cost Cuttings – Businesses can significantly trim down costs that they usually incur for accommodating their employees, with all the implications, by enabling them to work from home. In addition to that, the foreign labor resource can be tapped into at no extra cost and without the regular delays owing to geographical distance.
- Improved Engagement - Video and web conferencing calls enable better interactivity and consequently improved productivity, thus minimizing the expense related to telecoms and travel.
- Fewer Bills – You as a person, or a business organization, will have fewer bills to take care of, as you may be having all your services availed from one provider, who can be approached via a single number.
- A Secure Solution – Rather than using phone lines, Unified Communications turns your voice signals into digital ones. All your calls are made via an encrypted internet connection, thus adding a considerable level of security to your business communications system. This applies to fax, emails, phone calls, and text messages. Today’s businesses need that level of protection when dealing with confidential and private information. A UC platform makes sure that all of this delicate data is secure.
- Saves Time – In addition to the considerable financial savings, Unified Communications options also provide special features which will minimize the time spent connecting with others. Options like short-number dialing eliminate the need for an area code, for instance.
- Efficiency and Manageability – Unified Communications solution offers your business a single and integrated platform that connects your desktop computers, mobile devices, and your whole business faculty. It streamlines everything into a single phone number that works for all devices.
With the addition of call optimization features, you can store all your contact information in a single place from where it can be easily accessed. This enables your business operation to run seamlessly, and your workers can target on their tasks and easily communicate with customers and clients.
The cloud-hosted features of Unified Communications also enable all the equipment to be stored off-site, freeing up your office space and also removing complications.