The UCStrategies Experts share their expertise in bylined articles, opinion pieces, blogs, and podcasts, to define unified communications, educate you about unified communications technologies, and help you make informed decisions about unified communications solutions.
UCStrategies.com defines unified communications as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.” The definition of unified communications narrows significantly when you can read and hear about real-world examples that other companies are implementing right now—and apply them to your situation.
This section offers learning tools to help you plan your unified communications implementation.
This section provides a practical, vendor-independent service to any Enterprise that is seeking the benefits of Unified Communications. How do you pull everything together to implement unified communications? Use the tools in this sequence to define unified communications for your business.
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Unified communication (UC) is easy to describe from a vendor’s perspective, but an open approach in defining and building a unified is bound to be more successful than a one-size fits all offering. The combined telephony and IT department must identify the internal and external communication patterns to identify what services will increase efficiency and productivity.
In an episode of Mad Men when the news of the assassination of President Kennedy is heard, the main character Donald Draper walks into the main office while all phones are ringing insanely. Before he finds out what is going all, suddenly the phones all go quiet and a secretary tries to get a signal again. Later in the episode we get the explanation that “…the system was completely overloaded.” This is just one dramatic example where the ever-working phone stops functioning which must mean that there is a very serious situation. Think of the number of dramatic scenes you have seen where the victim rushes to a phone, but not getting a dial tone. Exciting, isn’t it?
Implementing a technology is no guarantee that the workforce will become more efficient. It really is not up to each supplier to promise efficiency. They can only offer tools that might be used to increase that illusive and very, from a quantitative perspective, difficult point to prove.
Instead each organization should approach Unified Communication features from a user’s perspective.
1) Identify who the users are For a contact center, the users are not only the agents and management staff, they are also partners and customers who want to communicate with them. For Unified Communications solutions, the users are most regularly in the office, but there are external users as well.
2) Identify communication volumesBy knowing the DNA of the organizations’ communication needs it is easier to identify what tools will help them to be more efficient.
3) Identify what means of communication (features) will benefit these communication patterns.UC is a very different solution depending on organization. For one company, UC will focus on video-based collaborations, in another it will be instant messaging and presence, and in a third it will circle around allowing collaboration between the contact center and back-office staff.
In a recent publication, research house IDC predicts an increase in unified communication sales, chiefly in the small and medium enterprises. I believe that this is because for these smaller companies, communication is more streamlined and there is less legacy equipment to consider. However, the success of the industry lies in the adoption of models that allow larger organizations the flexibility to combine applications to create their UC solution. Still, the IT departments of larger organizations struggle with what features will be the killer features so that their finite budgets are used for the right thing.
In most companies, telecom and IT departments have merged, but without changing the way they work. A joint effort is absolutely necessary for UC to be implemented successfully. To give you an example, let’s say the IT department wants to implement a UC client with a built-in soft phone. This means that the telecom group responsible must test this client (SIP maybe) and in many cases this will involve upgrading the telecom system. Or turn it around. The telecom group upgrades the old voicemail system to a unified messaging solution and wants messages to be stored in the email server. If the telecom and IT department do not communicate (which is a conundrum, seeing that they both work with communication,) the implementation of UC is going to fail.
Now to tie the knot in this article. I began with a descriptive situation from the TV series Mad Men. For unified communication as a concept to succeed, it is not possible to view voice as a by-product or necessary evil, but as a very important product-feature (VIP) which will make or break UC. I have read so many blogs, heard so many presentations from pundits who dismiss voice as the old way of communicating, i.e. their focus is on new ways of communicating.
Let me give you a number of reasons why this is bound to fail:
One solution fits all, is not an answer, it is a cop-out. If current vendors do not open themselves up to cooperate with application vendors, open source or community-developed solutions will become powerful competitors if serious systems integrators take the support responsibility and release management needed to create trust.
Organizations still depend on voice communication as the premier quality communication service. When it doesn’t work, we know. IT departments and vendors must consider this when implementing and developing products with a higher failure rate than what we are used to from a voice system.
We can live without email for a while; we don’t have to IM or share a document. But if we can’t make a call, something is seriously wrong… Right?
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
Uses presence capabilities for coordination, and presents a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.
Learn more at What is Unified Communications all about?