Let’s be blunt. “Unified Communications (UC) continues as vague, overused, marketing hype.” Just search UC and you can’t miss comments such as these in the UC blogosphere. What is the truth about UC?
To begin with, UC is not a single product, nor is there one common definition. At the heart of UC is its purpose: to simplify communication and optimize business processes and collaboration. Through this transformation, enterprises will realize cost and productivity benefits. Users will have a more consistent unified interface and experience across devices and other media.
To keep things simple, let’s look at the core components that go into a UC strategy and what matters most.
UC Strategy Components
There are plenty of choices upon which an enterprise UC strategy can be built. At the end of the day, an enterprise may implement all or just select components, and that’s OK says UC Strategies. UC is in the eye of the beholder, and each UC implementation will be unique for each company consisting of its own set of products, applications, and services. Here are components to consider:
1. Voice/calling engine for real-time voice and call processing;
2. Voice mail and email messaging;
3. Presence and instant messaging;
4. Mobility and fixed mobile convergence;
5. Conferencing (including desktop sharing and video streaming, in addition to traditional audio and video conferencing);
6. APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to integrate with other business processes, applications, systems, etc.;
7. SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking – the foundation for UC.
UC is a Mindset, not a Handset
While the components will certainly influence the effectiveness of your UC strategy, the real success comes through the transformation of how enterprises do business. According to London-based Comms Business, the industry must move beyond the product/solution mindset. Real UC is more than a modern telephony system.
As we talked in an earlier blog, UC is a business decision affecting business processes and collaboration. For example, Comms Business goes on to say that “one intelligent aspect of UC is its integration into CEBP (communications enabled business processes). Embedded into a business process, for example, UC can automatically escalate a customer inquiry to incorporate audio and video conferencing with the correct parties to speed up decision making. Having the technology to make information and people available instantly is a great asset.”
Mobile Applications Matter
In 2009, Americans led the world by downloading more than 837 million applications onto their mobile devices, an astonishing nine fold increase in just two years. As impressive as that statistic is, it will seem small two years from now.
When it comes to applications, enterprises must first clear the clutter and determine which mobile applications are critical enablers of business processes and collaboration. This is important because applications today often dictate the required device says TechTarget. For example, RIM’s Mobile Voice System Client supports only BlackBerry devices. Once the applications are identified, enterprises should know the UC strategy of the application provider. This becomes important as you learn which devices and applications are compatible and allow for seamless integration in a future device-agnostic environment.
For UC to live up to its expectations, enterprises need to define what UC means to their own organizations. They must know how UC is going to help them meet their business objectives. And once implemented, they must ensure that the communication applications are tightly integrated and that the enterprise is able to support collaboration through various devices and networks.
Real UC is transformational and changes the way enterprises do business.