What Are Unified Communications & UCaaS?

Unified communications is a concept that has been around for a long time – it is far from new. It is the process of combining or integrating communications (such as telephony, chat and video, with non real-time communication services, like email, fax, voicemail and SMS) under the same platform or device. Some basic examples of common unified communications include; the ability to send a fax via email or even sending work email from your iPhone.

Basically, unified communications simplifies and combines, providing a consistent user-experience across devices and media types. ‘UC’ reduces the need for multiple devices, systems or software installations, to perform different communications tasks.

unified communications across devices with team meeting

Unified Communications Brings Devices & People Together

More recently, unified communications have evolved. Fast. Today, ‘UC’ includes many different services, from voice, video, texting, conferencing, collaboration, email and more. All possible due to the emergence of technology. There are now specialist providers of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). Most UCaaS providers offer service which allow users to unify multiple communications methods from a single provider. (As a UCaaS provider ourselves, we offer the ability to make unlimited free calls, texts, chats and conferences from a browser, phone or desktop, via a single cloud hosted solution). Typically, combining these communication methods under the same umbrella for a workforce is both more efficient and cost effective. Further benefits of UCaaS can be seen by clicking the link.

To explain Unified Communications (UC) further, below is a short explainer video and transcript from UC Today News, with everything you need to know;

Video transcript: We’re living in a brand new world spurred by digital transformation. As technology continues to evolve, we’ve entered an era where work is no longer refined to a specific desk, phone or computer screen. Business professionals have the freedom to share their skills and pursue new opportunities across the globe, all with nothing but the right device and a cloud connection.

Now that almost half of the world are beginning to work remotely. Companies need to find a way to serve users that refuse to be tethered by wires and physical locations. The result has been an influx of fantastic communication tools designed for almost every touch point in the average business.

The only problem is that we’ve innovated so fast that the sheer number of communication tools available is enough to overwhelm any worker or IT team. Fortunately, we have a new solution. Enter unified communications. The term “unified communications” or UC, describes not only how we connect different communication systems for the digital workforce but collaboration tools too.

That’s why you will often hear the phrase “UC and C” which simply means unified communications and collaboration. Seamless UC ensures a high level of interaction throughout the globally-dispersed workforce. It breaks down the silos between the enterprise teams and ensures that no matter where you work, you can still access the same secure system.

What Services Does Unified Communications & UCaaS Include?

In short, UC incorporates messaging, voice and video calling, team collaboration, video conferencing and file sharing and so much more. In a world defined by a dizzying mix of platforms designed to suit organizations spread across vast places, UC simplifies the world of work. The right UC platform gathers everything your employees need to connect, share and work together on ideas in the same streamlined interface.

What Are Some Benefits Of Unified Communications & UCaaS?

Here are some of the major benefits of UC. Better productivity. Teams can connect however they feel most comfortable using any device or medium they choose.

  • Reduced costs. Because UC systems operate on the cloud, they allow companies to shift away from the traditional CapEx model to more of an OpEx model with fewer initial expenses.
  • Stronger performance. Because employees can both communicate and collaborate in an instant, they can solve customer problems faster and improve your business reputation.
  • Enhanced user experience (UX). A good UC strategy can delight your employees and even reduce turnover in your organization, by giving people more freedom to work as they choose.

How Popular Are Unified Communications?

The popularity of UC systems has grown more every year. In fact recent research indicates that the market will see an annual growth rate of 12.3% leading to a value of about 46 billion by 2020. More than ever, companies are beginning to understand how UC can help them better serve clients and employees alike.

Perhaps the biggest trend driving the adoption of UC is digital transformation and the rise of the digital workforce. At its core, the digital workforce thrives on the idea that people should be able to access the tools they need to perform wherever they are and whatever device they use. Combine that with the ever emerging move to cloud communications and add all methodologies and you’ve got an environment primed for UC. As the workplace innovates faster, breaches global boundaries and discovers new opportunities, UC is the path to better connections and productivity.

The words “communication” and “collaboration” appear so closely together in the modern world, that some people have begun to believe that they mean the same thing. After all, thanks to the widespread popularity of UC and communication apps equipped with collaboration tools, it’s easy to see how the two concepts go hand in hand. In fact collaboration in the workforce simply can’t exist without good communication. However just because the two ideas connect on a fundamental level doesn’t mean they’re the same thing.

What’s The Difference Between Communication & Collaboration?

All companies need communication to thrive. It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a small business of say three or four people, or a huge enterprise with dedicated call centers. You need communication. A communication strategy can come in various forms. Most organizations have an external communication strategy, which is a plan that they use to connect with customers, clients, shareholders and suppliers. Increasingly, external communication plans are becoming omni-channels, stretching all the way from VoIP to social media, SMS and much more.

It’s equally important to have an internal communication strategy. This is the plan that companies use to keep internal staff members connected. It ensures that remote workers can connect with in-office employees through video conferencing and everyone can stay in touch in real time through persistent chat. Like external communication, internal communication often involves multiple channels. Where communication is about sharing knowledge, collaboration is about actively working together to achieve mutual goals. For instance, if you call someone on a VoIP channel to talk about an upcoming project, it’s communication. However if while you’re talking, you also start sharing screens and editing a project together, then it’s collaboration. Essentially, collaboration brings action to the communication space. The fact that collaboration and communication are so closely connected is what makes them so hard to distinguish at times. Even the collaboration tools we see on the market today can blur the definitions a little.

After all, Slack is often touted as a collaboration tool but sending someone a message on Slack doesn’t necessarily mean you’re collaborating. However Slack does provide channels where teams can collaborate on projects together. Ultimately collaboration in the modern workforce is about providing an avenue for employees, executives or anyone else in a business to work together on the same project, no matter where they are.

While today the conversation about collaboration is heating up, it’s important to remember that communication will always be the underlying ingredient of good collaboration. Without communication, we would be left with multiple people working on their own versions of a project using the same tool. Communication provides the insight and knowledge to connect minds across the workforce.

It’s worth mentioning that collaboration tools have largely accommodated internal teams. However things are changing. We’re starting to see intercompany collaboration rising in popularity with features like guest access and shared channels.

Communication and collaboration are natural partners in the digitally-transformed and in globally-distributed workforce. However before any enterprise can begin to successfully invest in collaboration tools, they need to first ensure they’re getting the most out of their communication strategy. If communication isn’t clear, accessible and easy to use across a range of touch points, then collaboration can’t work. Empower your people to share knowledge. Then you can help them to work together on tasks.

There’s lots of more to tell you about UC and that’s why UC Today offers a whole host of free and available content for you to explore. From the latest news and products to smart guides and videos available at UCToday.com. Thanks for watching.

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