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An Introduction to Unified Communications

unified communications

What are unified communications?

Unified communications refers to the integration of all aspects of enterprise communication. It refers, not to a single product, but to a set of products that, together, provide a consistent and unified user interface.

What does it include?

  • Instant messaging
  • Presence information – the status indicator that conveys a user’s willingness and ability to be contacted (e.g. online, offline, do not disturb, etc)
  • Voice (including IP telephony)
  • Mobility features – including extension mobility (the user’s ability to move between phones, whilst taking their numbers and device settings with them) and single number reach (call forwarding that allows a user to be reached on a specific number from wherever they are)
  • Audio, web and video conferencing
  • Fixed-mobile convergence – an increasing trend towards the integration of fixed and wireless telecommunications networks
  • Desktop sharing
  • Data sharing
  • Call control
  • Speech recognition

Why are unified communications so important?

The primary goal of unified communications is to improve user productivity and enhance business processes. The advantages of unified communications implementation are many. These include:

  • Cost efficiency – unified communications lead to economies of scale, as they allow the use of fewer providers and more streamlined licensing.
  • Time efficiency – the convergence of all aspects of communication leads to a seamless user interface, where all the required services can be found in one place and can be accessed from anywhere, which saves vast amounts of time. Furthermore, the use of fewer providers means juggling fewer licensing agreements, which also boosts time efficiency.
  • The productivity of employees as individuals – having all their communications in one place saves time switching between devices, allowing employees to get more done in less time. Furthermore, functions such as presence information can reduce the amount of time wasted in a day, as an employee is able to view their co-worker’s status before trying to contact them and can avoid the need to contact someone two or three times, only to then ascertain that they are busy.
  • The productivity of employees as a team – unified communications vastly enhance a workforce’s ability to communicate and collaborate with each other, as it allows them to share ideas and information quickly and in real-time. This increases the productivity, not just of individuals, but of the workforce as a whole.
  • Communication over distance – in today’s society, it has become increasingly common for employees to be stationed, not just in one head office, but all over the world. Because of this, the need for applications such as video conferencing has massively increased in recent years. Aspects of unified communications, such as single number reach, allow for employees to be reached from wherever they are.

Who can I ask about unified communications for my institution?

4C Strategies has been working in unified communications for many years and exercises invaluable expertise and insight into all aspects of the process. 4C supports clients who have challenging ICT / unified communications infrastructure projects by providing them with independent advice, skills, resources and support to overcome the challenge cost-effectively and with minimal risk. To get in touch, please call us on 01858 438938, or email webenquiries@4c.co.uk.

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