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What Exactly Is Unified Communications (UC)?


You come into contact with Unified Communications (UC) every day. But what exactly does Unified Communications mean? Here’s everything you need to know about UC. 

Let’s face it, we’re living in some pretty exciting times. Technological innovation is happening everywhere you look. It’s fair to say that it’s changing the way we do everything. 

Technology has changed the way we work, connect, collaborate, and communicate. The wealth of tools that we have at our disposal nowadays have given both employees and employers a new degree of flexibility that’s unprecedented.  

This is evident as nowadays much of the global workforce is no longer bound to a single location, desk, or office space. The emergence of remote working has given people the ability to pursue opportunities all around the world, while requiring nothing other than a laptop and an internet connection.  

In fact, according to Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people working remotely has increased by 159% since 2009. However, this rise has produced a unique set of challenges. One of these challenges is within business communications. How do businesses ensure positive and seamless communication experiences for both employees and clients while enabling staff to work remotely? 

The remedy for this issue? Unified Communications (UC).  

Defining Unified Communications 

Unified Communications describes a network of various pieces of software, hardware and services combined with the goal of enabling a business to have an easy flow of communication. Gartner defines Unified Communications as the below: 

”Unified Communications (UC) products — equipment, software and services — provide and combine multiple enterprise communications channels, such as voice, video, personal and team messaging, voicemail, and content sharing. This can include control, management and integration of these channels. UC products and services can also be integrated with networks and systems, IT business applications and, in some cases, consumer applications and devices.” 

Simply put, Unified Communications is a connected system of communication types, tools and channels in a business. This includes phone systems, chat functions, video conferencing, email and more. The goal is that of empowering everyone in the organisation to communicate with ease, irrespective of what device they’re using, or where they are located. 

Unified Communications also describes how these communication channels are combined with collaboration and productivity tools as well. This helps to ensure there is seamless communication and collaboration throughout the remote working workforce. This is an essential measure as a lot of problems can arise if there are a lot of communication and collaboration issues between the different teams within a business.  

What is an example of a Unified Communications platform? 

By now you’re probably aware of what Unified Communications means and why it’s important. However, you might still be wondering what Unified Communications systems are from a more practical sense.  

A great Unified Communications platform acts as a single, centralised system that combines all your business’s communication channels. This is kind of like how you use a wallet to store all your important cards in one place. It is designed to combine every aspect of your business’s communication channels. This usually includes voice, email, chat, video, and audio conferencing.  

Here is a list of things that a Unified Communications platform can bring together: 

  • Instant messaging and chat 
  • Video calls and conferencing 
  • File and document sharing 
  • Availability 
  • Real time collaboration 
  • Phone systems, voice and calling 
  • Email 
  • Remote productivity 

In addition to this, Unified Communications solutions are typically provided as services. As a result of this classification, you could hear the term ‘Unified Communications as a service’ (UCaaS) being mentioned by IT teams when they are discussing different Unified Communications solutions. 

According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for UCaaS, Microsoft, RingCentral and Zoom offer the leading solutions when it comes to Unified Communications services worldwide. Microsoft 365 with Teams can be turned into a full Unified Communications and collaboration platform by integrating an enterprise phone or calling system. 

Benefits of an effective Unified Communications system:

If the definition alone wasn’t enough to convince you about why Unified Communications is important, here are a few benefits that your organisation cold unlock with a good UC system. 

1. Lower IT Costs 

Do you ever look at your IT bill at the end of the month and think to yourself “do I really need all of this?” 

If you do, then there’s a good chance that you’re overpaying. Retaining multiple units of hardware and software only increases your costs as a business. In addition to this you’ll also need to train your employees how to use all these platforms. This could be seen as a waste of capital – capital could instead be used to expand your company. 

A Unified Communications platform built on technologies such a Microsoft 365 and Teams brings all of your communication channels and types in to one centralised system. This means one monthly payment for all the tools and apps your users need. 

2. Improved collaboration and productivity 

Imagine yourself trying to communicate and collaborate with 5 different people at the same time, but with one catch. You must use a different medium of communication to interact with each person. 

Sounds hectic right? 

Well, that describes exactly what most organisations that don’t have access to a Unified Communications platform are doing. They waste a lot of time searching across disparate apps and platforms looking for important documents or conversations, when instead they could just all have access to them on one platform. 

With a centralised Unified Communications platform, all your employees can access all the communication types, tools and documents they need from one location. This enables them to communicate and collaborate with ease.  

3. Better customer service 

We live in a “right here, right now” world. Customers expect to have quick and efficient services and support. It’s important to be able connect clients to the right people, via the right communication method, at the right time. 

According to the Global State of Customer Service Study, 58% of customers will end their dealings with a brand that gives them low-quality service. So, if you want to maintain a great level of customer support, you must ensure that: 

  1. Your customers can reach you quickly and easily via their preferred channels. 
  1. Your employees find it easy to share and access information internally to support clients. 

However, this will prove to be difficult if you’re using standalone communication services scattered all over the place. With that approach, you’ll also run the risk of crucial messages getting lost. 

Investing in a Unified Communications solution will provide customers with more consistent and responsive experiences, which will in turn increase their loyalty to your business. 

4. Streamlines remote work  

Communication becomes even more important when your business and employees operate across all different locations. An effective Unified Communications platform ensures that all employees have access to a comprehensive workspace for all communication, collaboration and productivity.  

Your employees will be able to make calls, share files, send emails, and collaborate on projects wherever they are working. This is just one of the ways that a Unified Communications solution can enhance the level of connectivity within your organisation. 

Final thoughts on Unified Communications  

Over the past few years, there’s been a massive shift in how companies operates and how their employees work together. For most businesses, the days of having an office, with all the employees working from it are long gone. Nowadays, companies prefer to have a remote worker working from different places. 

For this reason, having an effective Unified Communications system is essential for a modern business. Incorporating a UC platform enables your organisation to unlock the benefits listed above and many other benefits. 

At 848, we have a team of Unified Communications specialists who can design, build and integrate a seamless UC system into your business and IT environment. Get in touch today to learn more.