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What is Unified Communications (UC)?

In running your business, you could find your corporate communications need changing with fluid regularity. For example, whereas email or fax might be the necessary medium for sending or receiving a quotation, you might want to switch to instant messaging for matters of urgency.

Similarly, cost concerns could lead you to forgo voice communication in favour of text-based chat when you want to launch into lengthy dialogue with a new partner or client. However, if you seek to discuss a product prototype, video conferencing could help you to converse with multiple partners.

As you can see, many different communication strands are at play here – so, how can you tie all of them together seamlessly and intuitively? The answer to this communication conundrum is unified communications (UC), which would let you quickly switch between different strands as necessary.

Unravelling the technical jargon of UC

It’s easy to be confused even by the single term “unified communications”. What form of technology is it? In truth, it is far from just one piece of technology; “unified communications” is instead an umbrella term under which various forms of communication can be tightly integrated.

Admittedly, it is unhelpful that some sources are prone to using the terms “unified communications” and “unified messaging” seemingly interchangeably, as IT PRO notes. In fact, unified messaging would form only one component of UC, with many other alternatives coming into play as well.

Nonetheless, unified messaging does constitute a broad term in itself. It includes not only instant messaging but also email, voicemail and faxes. Here, the “unified” part of the equation comes in how messages from all of these mediums would be placed into one mailbox for ready access.

That access could come from either a desktop or mobile device, allowing the user to tap into a broad array of flexible features – including inbound call screening, live reply and call return. The unified nature of this communication system sheds light on how the wider arrangement of UC also works.

The Alfonica Collaborate solution offers UC services such as instant messaging and presence, voice, video, desktop and application sharing, and document sharing.

In our next article on UC, we will be looking at its benefits and how you should start building your UC platform.

This article is taken from our upcoming white paper ‘Beginners guide to unified communications’. If you would like a copy or would like to discuss your unified communications requirements, please contact us.

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