Consider all the communications applications you’ve used recently,
and your list may look something like this:
Skype for VoIP
Zoom or Go-to Meeting for conferencing
iMessage text messaging
Facebook for social media
Outlook for email
Local carrier for voice mail and fax
Six applications is a lot just to communicate. How did this state of
affairs come to be?
All of these useful tools did not pop up overnight. Rather, they
incrementally crept up on us, so that we all slowly acclimated to a
The truth, however, is that disparate communications platforms is
inefficient and costly, especially on an enterprise scale.
Unified Communiciations to the Rescue
Although most people may not think about how much their
communications habits are costing their business, the proliferation of
new technologies has lead to unified communications, a
time-saving, cost-cutting consolidation technology.
Gartner defines unified communications (UC) as “equipment, software
and services that facilitate the interactive use of multiple
enterprise communications methods. This can include control,
management and integration of these methods. UC products integrate
communications channels (media), networks and systems, as well as IT
business applications and, in some cases, consumer applications and
devices.” Hosted Unified Communications (HUC), or UC-as-a-service, is
when a third-party manages the system.
The cloud-based PBX and range of related technologies are favored by
businesses that want to spend the as little time as possible managing
communications, from hardware procurement and maintenance all the way
down to user provisioning. All UC solutions differ depending on the
provider, but often bundle the following functionalities:
- IP Telephony
- Instant Messaging
- Desktop/Screen Sharing
- Fax Social
Benefits in Brief
UC is an encompassing technology, and the primary benefits largely
depend on the situation. In general, however, businesses value UC for
the following reasons:
Efficiency. Communication latency between employees and
customers is reduced, allowing information to flow easier through all
levels and business departments.
Scalability. Business growth, seasonal volume shifts, and
service ramp-up/ramp-downs are easily manageable under a UC system.
Reduced IT Burden. Consolidated systems are easier to mange,
update, and control, especially under a UC model, where the provider
maintains the system.
Cost Savings. UC can save money by eliminating costly voice
trunks, consolidating standalone vendors, and lowering long-distance
rates. However, there are other benefits to UC that are better
explained in context rather than a bulleted list.