So, what is Unified Communication?

One of the things we do here at Dreamtek is help customers develop effective Unified Communications (UC) collaboration solutions. We thought we’d take a few moments to explain what that actually means.

The principle is pretty simple: these tools constitute suites of collaborative work tools that let people work together effectively, even when they are on the move or clustered in different places.

UC tools combine a range of solutions: everything from secure shared data storage to telepresence, messaging and video conferencing solutions. They also include solutions for group collaboration and sharing of documents, presentations or other media, and the whole thing is glued together by consistent user interfaces and the cloud.

So what can you expect from the ideal of a fully-integrated UC suite?

  • Instant messaging
  • Unified messaging combining e-mail, voicemail, fax
  • Telephony services and audio/video Web conferencing
  • Collaborative workspaces.

What does this mean?

“But, how is this stuff used?” you might ask: Here’s some examples…

  • Two colleagues in two different countries could conceivably work together on a presentation, maintaining contact using video or spoken word chat while applying document changes to the same file.
  • Alternatively, if both participants are offline or too far out of the same time zone, they can continue to work effectively using the same systems.
  • While travelling you need to speak to your Human Resources chief, a UC system would let you know when they log in and become available. Alternatively it would let you leave a voice/text/video message flagged in the system as urgent, and they could reply to you.

Doesn’t sound too different from what’s happening already using consumer solutions?

Perhaps, but key to an integrated UC system is compatibility, consistency, security and reliability.

So, rather than spending the working day monitoring different software applications while waiting for an urgent document change or message, all these systems would fit together to enable a business user to know the moment that essential colleague or essential file became available all within the one software suite.

Sifting the chaos of comms

For many in business the situation is one of semi-organised chaos:

The average business executive spends two hours each day on email, but use of a UC system should enable them to easily (or automatically) prioritise the messages they need to address.

56 percent of organisations say employees can’t contact co-workers the first time they try. This leads to crazy work/life imbalances, meaning one-third (33 percent) of executives check their email in the middle of the night.

At best, UC solutions are device and platform-agnostic. That means that company workers using a mobile device, notebook, iPad or desktop PC will all share access to a firm’s UC system. This kind of compatibility is essential to support the evolving mobile workforce.

What are the benefits?

Firms switching to UC systems see travel costs cut by 20 percent, while 70 percent of knowledge workers who’ve used UC suites say they’ve improved their level of engagement at work.

What this translates to, of course, is a big gain in productivity. A recent Cisco/Orange Business survey of decision-makers from multinationals revealed that 73 percent of those surveyed expected to see improved productivity as a result of their deployment of UC systems. They might be right: a recent Sonus survey claimed improved productivity of c. 23 percent.

Why? Wes Durow, Vice President of Global Marketing at Sonus said: “Too often we send an email to follow-up on a voice-mail, or spend time sending a text to see if someone is immediately available. Our communication modes have been discrete for too long and the opportunity to bring them together to drive personal productivity is immense.”

This is the promise of Unified Communications. We can help you put these systems together.

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