Unified Communications encompasses a business' communication system and the integrated technologies and applications that make up a unified platform.
So, while there isn't a single product called Unified Communications or UC, there are a plethora of products that work together to provide a unified experience and interface for people working in multiple media and on various devices.
To give an example:
Unified Communications assists people access apps like email, SMS, voice, and fax through a single interface.
This unification of systems and technologies makes it easier for the user, and the result is a more efficient experience.
The perfect unified communication setup helps join together multiple streams and workflows together to assist businesses to make employees more efficient, save time and money, and make for better customer experiences.
While people's definition of unified communications is different depending on their scope and industry, most agree that it means that communications that are unified or integrated to optimize workflows to increase employee efficiency and productivity.
Services that fall under the UC umbrella are the Internet, Telephony (VoIP), Instant Messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing, email, voicemail, and SMS. Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP took a big leap forward in communications technology because it allowed users the chance to get telephone communications more easily through their data connections at a reduced cost compared to traditional landline phone service.
Today, wholesale VoIP termination is faster, more reliable, cost-effective, and offers higher call quality than ever before, making it attractive to both enterprise customers and consumers.
Unified Communications for Businesses
Unified communication and VoIP overlap, and they may do to an extent; however, there remains much difference between them.
For example, VoIP's focus is on making phone calls via the internet. Besides the main feature of making calls, VoIP also offers some UC perks such as voicemail, instant messaging, and making video calls. Unified Communication's focus, however, is almost always relegated to company-wide communications.
It's worth noting that while VoIP and UC are useful for enterprise, there are advantages and disadvantages. The most significant advantage to VoIP is the cost savings versus traditional landline telephony, which holds for both consumers and enterprise customers.
What Are The Components of Unified Communications?
As was mentioned earlier, UC comprises multiple technologies and platforms and brings them together into a cohesive user experience. Some elements that make up UC are:
- Instant messaging
- Audio, video, and web conferencing
- Call control
- Unified messaging
- Speech and personal assistants
- Tools to facilitate collaboration
- Software for mobility
- Software for BPI or Business Process Integration
Cloud & Unified Communication
Right now, the sector that's seeing the fastest growth with UC concerning enterprise is cloud-based communications. Cloud communications bring together both voice and messaging under one umbrella.
The advantage of the cloud is that it increases productivity and the company's bottom line. As before, the features offered by the cloud are similar and include instant messaging, call recording, web conferencing, video conferencing, and team collaboration.
These features combined make for more efficient teams and individual employees, which benefits both the company and its customers.
Another huge advantage of the cloud and UC is its ability to adapt and grow as situations demand quickly. Lastly, the cloud is easily customizable, making it ideal for companies who want to tailor services specific to their business.
The Benefits of Cloud & Unified Communication
As mentioned earlier, flexibility and adaptability are two main advantages cloud offers to UC. However, there is a third, which is the cost. Cloud-based services can also easily accommodate the needs of virtually any company.
The other significant advantages to cloud and Unified Communications are:
- Easy backup and data recovery
- Detailed analytics
- CRM integration and support
- Communication-enabled business processes
- Support for new work regulations
- Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) trunking
- 24/7 support
What to Look for in a Unified Communication Provider
The technology of UC is growing and in high demand, and there are a variety of providers out there who offer Unified Communications services. So, with so many choices, it's easy to feel overwhelmed when deciding which one to use.
Here are five things to keep in mind during your search.
Ability to Scale
Being able to grow as your business demands is an essential feature to look for when looking for a UC provider. Your business may be small now, but think about future growth and pick a provider who can grow with you.
Backups are essential to retrieving data when disaster happens, so make sure the company you choose has a robust backup system with easily retrievable data.
Solid Internet Connection
Unified Communication requires a reliable, high-speed data connection, so look for a provider that has the infrastructure to accommodate you and the demands your company might put on their system.
Service & Support
Support and service are vital for helping when you experience trouble, so find a provider that has a support package to fit your needs and will be available according to your schedule.
Last, you'll eventually have to upgrade old equipment, so it's compatible with your UC provider. You can do this by yourself, but you may be better off going with a company that offers to upgrade as a service.
Now that you know more about unified communications and how it can benefit your business, hopefully, this article has helped you in your search for the best provider. The need for unified communications will only become more important as industries become more niche and employees work outside of the typical office environment.