Hello Unified Communications

Stephen Mulligan
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On: 19 Jun 2015
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Unified Communications is a term commonly used but not always understood. Discover everything you need to know right here.

This is the first in our series of blogs on Unified Communications, where we will attempt to pull back the cloak from the mysterious and elusive UC and look at it from a couple of angles; namely:

  • What is UC?
  • What can UC do for me?
  • How would I go about choosing a UC solution?
  • I’ve bought into UC, now what do I do with it?

No matter what you do in your business, whether you are supplying dairy products, cutting hair or looking after the elderly in their homes, there are two basic things that we all have to do: communicate and collaborate. Our ability to communicate with our customers, colleagues, partners and suppliers is a crucial part of any business. It has always been thus and will always be. Simply put: companies and organisations that communicate better work better.

Within our businesses we all communicate in our own ways. That could be person to person, by phone call, by email, via text message or instant message, through voicemails, on social media or using documents. We also find ourselves in different locations during the day with differing degrees and modes of connectivity. So, we might be in the office and we can simply plug into the network. When we are at home, maybe we have our own home broadband. When we’re in an airport or a café, perhaps there is WiFi available. When we’re out and about, we would hope to have 4G or 3G mobile data coverage.

Unified Communications is not just a technology. It is a way of approaching and designing your business communications environment. What UC does is provide a simple, familiar environment for workers to communicate in the way that they want to in the location where they find themselves with whatever connectivity they have.

Consider the Hairdresser in our example above. If it is hard for their customer to communicate with the salon because the person who normally answers the phones is washing hair, that’s patently bad for business. The competitor salon down the street who does answer the phone will likely get the business and potentially the customer for the foreseeable future. Imagine if instead the reception phone simultaneously rang on a mobile phone.

If workers within the dairy company find it difficult to communicate and collaborate with each other and localised knowledge silos build up then product innovation and time to market will suffer. In a competitive market this is a significant business disadvantage and is likely to impact on profitability and erode market share. Consider how simple Presence Indicators (Available, In a Meeting, On a Call, Do Not Disturb) and Instant Messaging could break down some of those barriers to facilitate easier sharing of information among teams.

Unified Communications is a simple enough concept, but it also involves a degree of change within your business. This change can be hard for users initially, but once embedded becomes the norm very quickly and very soon people find themselves wondering “how did we ever get anything done the other way..?”

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