The topic of defining Unified Communications has come up again, but the verdict from industry analyst Melanie Turek of Frost & Sullivan, writing at NoJitter, is that on one level the definition doesn’t even matter.
Her point is that regardless of any more-or-less-official definition, UC comes down to how the buyers and users of the products see it. If an enterprise is using a couple of UC elements, and wishes to say that it is using UC, it’s hard to say that the organization is wrong. Especially since few organizations have so far ordered up the entire menu of UC tools.
That view is a bit loose for our tastes. At Sprint, we like to think of ourselves as in the comfortable middle – between the authoritarian approach (if you aren’t doing UC as I think you should, you’re not doing it at all!) and the anything-goes approach. In the latter, a company that uses mobile devices and IM could claim to be at UC user, and we couldn’t really argue otherwise. We believe there ought to at least be a minimum level of elements and integration before you start showing up on the UC scoreboard.
It has been a long time since we pulled out the Sprint definition of UC, a handy and concise 65-word summation that one of our bloggers created a while back. This seems like a good opportunity, so here we go:
Unified Communications is the integration of wireless, wireline and collaboration solutions enabling a business and their end users to control how, where and when communication occurs through a consistent interface regardless of mode or access method.An effective Unified Communications deployment provides the business simplicity through common end-user interfaces, value through significantly improved network and IT infrastructure efficiency, and productivity in improving interactions between users.
With this definition, we are on the same wavelength as Frost & Sullivan, as Ms. Turek’s post uses their definition to make the point that when you are trying to size the market, or determine trends, you do have to draw some lines. Their definition:
“…an integrated set of voice, data and video communications, linked by presence information and delivered to the end user in a single client. The goal is to be able to click to communicate; that is, to choose a particular contact and communications mode as needed, then easily launch a call, chat session or conference with the click of a mouse.”
But as she concludes, if UC is to be successfully used and delivering ROI, “companies will have to deploy a mix of capabilities to different end users, based on their specific job roles and requirements. Whether they call it UC is irrelevant to all but the marketers.”