What is Unified Communication?

Unified Communications Explained

If you were to get ten communication experts in the same room and asked them what is Unified Communications you would get ten different answers. Basically UC is the convergence of Voice Data Video and Mobility into a single application. This application would include features such as Chat, Presence, Conferencing, Fax, SMS Texting, Speech To Text Translation to mention a few as well as integration to SalesForce, Sugar, Outlook and your Browser. This is just scratching the surface.

The beginnings of UC goes back to the mid 90’s but really never gained traction until Voice Over IP with the SIP Protocol was embraced as the new norm over traditional digital PBX’s and Key Systems. Moving forward to today, all telephone systems whether premised based or hosted, have a flavor of UC. In the beginning a simple feature such as Voicemail was considered a UC feature. When we speak of Voicemail now as a UC feature we would explain it like this. “When a call comes in it rings our desk phone but also rings the mobility application on our cell phone. We can decide what we want to do as it is ringing. If it goes to voicemail we will receive an email letting us know we received a call and a wave file attachment with the message as well as Speech to Text translation so if we are in a meeting we can still read the message.”

Mobility is one of the commonly used features of UC. Today’s mobile work force has the ability to never miss a call. It is common now to have as many as 3 or 4 devices associated with a single phone number. You can have a desk phone in the office, a desk phone at home, your cell phone mobility app and a soft phone on your laptop all acting as one. There is no limit to this madness.

Another standard feature is Presence. In the old days we had what was referred to as BLF or Busy Lamp Field which was a bunch of lights and buttons to tell who was on the phone and to have one touch access to them. You had to have an add-on-module added to your phone to accommodate this and usually only the Operator/Attendant had this due to limitations of the equipment. With larger organizations this inadequacy was amplified as visual recognition of hundreds of workers was daunting. Now with Presence every user can see each others status via an app on their desktop. Not only can you tell if they are on the phone, you can also tell if they are on vacation, in a meeting, watching a webinar, at lunch or in the old school, Do Not Disturb mode. Another great feature is if you see someone is on the phone or watching a webinar, you can ask a quick question by right clicking and choosing the Chat Feature or sending an email. Another great function of the Presence feature is as you change your Presence you have the ability to automatically redirect your calls. Say you are on vacation for a week. By clicking On Vacation, all your co-workers can see you are on vacation before they call you and if you get a call it can automatically be redirected to whomever is covering for you while away.

Its all about Productivity, Real-Time Communication and making your customers experience simply wonderful.

If you have any questions about Unified Communication or would like a demonstration of these features please drop me a line. drew@tampavoip.com.

Drew Martin