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What Is Unified Communications?

What Is Unified Communications?

Large companies like teamwork. It’s an efficient way to leverage resources in order to solve a problem or complete a task. At the same time, technology improvements help with collaboration and teamwork in many settings.

For an enterprise organization, teamwork tools are often essential. That's why it's worth taking a few minutes to learn about unified communication and how the concept can change many different businesses for a minimal investment.

Unified Communications Basics

Unified communications (UC) is a classification of technology products. The products under this classification include equipment, software, and services, and they all aim to provide a concise technological solution.

UC technology is designed to provide and combine various communications channels, usually for enterprise networks.

As an example, you could combine voice, video, and personal messaging systems under a single UC umbrella.

What would that look like?

The UC technology would provide the means to consolidate these different forms of communication under a single interface. The idea is that you can run all of your communications from a single spot. On top of that, you can choose how you take communications and interact with them. If you receive a message, you could have it read to you as a voice message, look at it on a messaging service, read it as an email, or choose from any other media streams available with the UC platform.

In order to provide all of this, UC has to function with control, management, and integration in terms of communications channels.

How It All Works

That might sound like an interesting idea, but how does it actually work? How do you combine different channels into this overarching umbrella?

For starters, UC needs support from different back-end systems. In fact, it needs support from all systems that make communication possible. For many enterprise networks, these backend systems are already running. That means UC primarily needs to integrate with existing systems in order to tap into the backend channels to streamline communication.

Yet, that’s only half the battle. UC is supposed to consolidate control into a single interface, and that all happens at the front end.

In fact, the front-end umbrella is often the most distinguishable aspect of a unified communications platform. It’s all in the interface. Whatever interface is provided by the UC platform, that determines what the process looks like to end users. It also impacts exactly how communications channels work together under the UC umbrella.

To boil it all down, UC taps into back-end structures in order to facilitate communications across an enterprise network. It then consolidates control into its own interface, putting most (if not all) communication options into a single control space. That’s the essence of how it works.

Fitting UC Into the Context of Networking

Considering that UC relies on existing infrastructure in order to function, what does a UC platform look like in the context of the enterprise network?

The easiest way to think about this context is with a generic example. Consider a business where UC is creating a multi-stream platform for team communications. Teams can use a meeting place application, instant messaging, VoIP, and personal messaging, all from the single UC interface.

Under the hood, UC is consolidating various communication streams that already exist on the network. Odds are that the network already had resources in place to provide each communication channel. This is what makes UC so appealing. You don’t have to install new channels to make it work.

This means that the hardware, infrastructure, and even controlling software were already in place.

UC is exploiting its integration prowess to do the heavy lifting. Since it can integrate with so many different systems, it can assume at least some level of control of those systems in order to consolidate the communications channels.

UC in Practice

To really drive the concepts of UC home, we can look at a specific example. Say a business has a writing team that creates content for various projects. The entire writing team works remotely. Thus, they need good ways to collaborate and communicate.

Email is an easy way to send work orders and schedules. Instant messaging is great for quick questions or notes. File sharing is essential for project management and collaboration. Speaking of collaboration, shared workspaces and online meeting places need to be accessible. VoIP can also help by providing real-time communications when and where they are needed.

It’s easy to see how UC can fill this multifaceted role. It can tap into the infrastructure for email, VoIP, and all the rest. It’s simply providing a unified interface so team members can more easily track messages and communicate freely.

Most importantly, UC can do this while integrating with existing platforms. The company already has a word processor, file sharing app, and more. UC doesn’t replace those different applications. It merely draws them together for an easier experience.

Additional Learning Center Resources