In running your business, you could find your corporate communication needs changing with fluid regularity. For example, whereas email or fax might be the necessary medium for sending or receiving a quotation, you might want to switch to instant messaging for matters of urgency.

Similarly, cost concerns could lead you to forgo voice communication in favour of text-based chat when you want to launch into lengthy dialogue with a new partner or client. However, if you seek to discuss a product prototype, video conferencing could help you to converse with multiple partners.

As you can see, many different communication strands are at play here – so, how can you tie all of them together seamlessly and intuitively? The answer to this communication conundrum is unified communications (UC), which would let you quickly switch between different strands as necessary.

Unravelling the technical jargon of UC

It’s easy to be confused even by the single term “unified communications”. What form of technology is it? In truth, it is far from just one piece of technology; “unified communications” is instead an umbrella term under which various forms of communication can be tightly integrated.

Admittedly, it is unhelpful that some sources are prone to using the terms “unified communications” and “unified messaging” seemingly interchangeably, as IT PRO notes. In fact, unified messaging would form only one component of UC, with many other alternatives coming into play as well.

Nonetheless, unified messaging does constitute a broad term in itself. It includes not only instant messaging but also email, voicemail and faxes. Here, the “unified” part of the equation comes in how messages from all of these mediums would be placed into one mailbox for ready access.

That access could come from either a desktop or mobile device, allowing the user to tap into a broad array of flexible features – including inbound call screening, live reply and call return. The unified nature of this communication system sheds light on how the wider arrangement of UC also works.

Gamma’s new Horizon Collaborate solution offers UC services such as instant messaging and presence, voice, video, desktop and application sharing, and document sharing.

What are the advantages of UC?

Mobile workers

At any one time during your work hours, you may have employees who are out in the field, carrying out crucial responsibilities away from the office. In this situation, the option to integrate a UC system with multiple devices, including those workers’ mobile devices, could prove invaluable.

Scalability

An especially strong incentive to choose a UC system would be the flexibility it would afford you for scaling your communication infrastructure with your company’s needs. Indeed, as your firm recruits more workers and opens multiple sites, the system can be expanded to cover all of them.

Broader Communications

Furthering your business’ use of UC means having the ability to carefully select from various communications methods to meet specific enterprise communication needs. While phone and email are staples of an office communications system, you could augment them effectively.

What are the starting points of building a UC system?

The “brain” of a UC system is what is known as the IP PBX. This stands for “Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange”, and is responsible for channelling various lines of communication – including Internet access, standard phone calls and VoIP – through a single connection.

What is VoIP? The acronym means “Voice over Internet Protocol” – and, for many businesses, VoIP has kept growing in importance as a slice of their UC pie. With VoIP and IP telephony, calls – both video and voice calls – can be transmitted over the Internet or local area networks (LAN).

So important has VoIP become to a well-oiled UC system that implementing a hosted phone system could especially effectively ease your business into uptake of a true UC system. Our Horizon hosted system offers various exciting features, to which more can be added as they are built and issued.

Implement UC Guide