Industry buzzword: what is Unified Communications (UC)?

Posted by: Schepisi - Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sounds straightforward enough: communications that are unified.

Multi-location businesses with offices and teams in major capital cities around the world as well as businesses made up of team of just five or 10 employees all rely on one major key to keep them running: communication.

Whether you’re holding bi-weekly meetings with the teams in Paris and San Francisco or making on-the-fly mobile phone calls to an employee working from home, communication keeps a business running smoothly.

This week, we examine the notion of Unified Communications. It’s a business buzzword and while many business buzzwords are simply confusing jargon or clichés, Unified Communications can take your business to the next level (there’s one of those cheesy clichés), once you’ve wrapped your head around it (and there’s another, just for good measure!)

Unified Communications (UC)

Components that make up a communications web

Some may assume that Unified Communications is a single product (despite its name), but in fact the system is made up of a variety of communication tools, each with their own specific features and benefits. Below we list the features of different parts of a communications web.

Instant communication

These days, most communication is instant. And in fact, we’ve come to rely so badly on instant communication that even a few hours for a response to an email or Facebook seems far too long.

When was the last time you sent a letter in the mail? Maybe you sent cards at Christmastime, but beyond that, it’s been a while! We no longer need to wait days (or weeks) to communicate, thanks to technology.

Examples of instant communication include instant messaging online (or even text messages). Even an email can be (somewhat) instant, depending on how soon a recipient reads and replies.

Audio communication

Instantly communicate with clients and employees alike using a tool that prioritises audio communication, like a business phone system, VoIP system, or smartphone.

A preferred method of communication, audio provides clarity to both parties (something that sometimes gets lost during online chats or emails).

Audio and video magic = video conferencing

When you’re struggling to communicate using words typed on a keyboard, unleash the power of video conferencing. Combine audio and video to bring meetings and catch-ups to life. You can also share documents, conduct presentations, and record meetings for record purposes or future referencing.

Video conferencing is the ultimate business communications tool that combines senses to create a dynamic communication medium.

Information exchange and data sharing

Typically, how many emails do you send in a day?

And of those, how many have documents, spreadsheets, images, videos, or links attached?

A lot, I’d bet.

Each time you send a client an email asking them to approve a word document or send a spreadsheet to your team asking them to create their own tabs to collaborate, you’re exchanging information and sharing data.

This is possibly one of the most important parts of your communications network, allowing you to provide and receive data and information instantly.

Internet services

This one can actually blanket over a number of tools we’ve already been over:

  • VoIP: audio communication tool that uses the internet (rather than a phone line)

  • Instant messenger: online chat functionality that relies on written (or rather, typed) conversations

  • Video conferencing: using Lifesize Cloud video conferencing, you can connect from any device

That is, any tool that uses the internet to facilitate written, audio, or visual communication (or a combination of these).

Individual and direct communications

Think of the quickest way you could get in touch with anyone, be it your mum, your best friend, or your boss.

Did you think of your smartphone? So did we.

It’s one of the most direct ways to reach an individual, regardless of whether it’s a pre-organised weekly phone meeting or a quick call to let someone know you are running late. Smartphones for business have become increasingly popular over the last five years as BYOD continues to grow in businesses of all sizes.

You can read more about the BYOD evolution in this blog post.

Tangible benefits of Unified Communication solutions

Unified Communications solutions are highly sought after methods for large businesses with team members (and/or clients) spread across different cities or countries, and with employees who frequently travel, work from home, or work remotely.

Such a diverse workforce needs many communications tools to stay connected. A Unified Communications solution offers these bigger businesses the tangible benefits to choose from a number of tools to stay in touch (and some to instantly get in touch) with their team, no matter their location.

If you think your business could benefit from a Unified Communications solution, please contact Schepisi. Schepisi’s extra layer of management on the Telstra network – Australia’s fastest network – creates a diverse, reliable, and solid communications web. Contact a Schepisi expert today.

Schepisi is a Telstra business partner in Melbourne