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Unified Communications

Avaya phone running Cisco unified communications

Avaya 9641 running Imagicle ApplicationSuite for Cisco UC.

Businesses today need to communicate in a variety of ways, from voice and video calls to SMS and instant messaging. Unified Communications (UC) brings it all together in one platform, offering professionals a wide variety of options for a monthly fee.

UC pulls Unified Messaging's integrated voice-mail, email, SMS, and fax communications into its solutions, providing real-time access to these services and more from a variety of devices.

Using UC, businesses can seamlessly move between different forms of communication without delay. This improves productivity and optimizes business processes, allowing businesses to use existing technology in all new ways.

Unified Communications is currently a leading technology in businesses today, used by companies across the globe. In a survey of businesses not currently using UC, 84% stated they planned to make the transition in the next one to three years.

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Benefits of Unified Communications

One of the biggest benefits of UC is that it allows professionals to work from anywhere. Thanks to the growth of mobile devices, businesses can maintain instant connectivity whether at home, in the office, or on the road.

Calls can be escalated to IM chats or video conferences if necessary, allowing for a level of collaboration that isn't possible with other types of telephony.

In addition to improving productivity, UC helps organizations dramatically reduce travel expenses, both locally and long distance.

Instead of traveling to a business meeting across the country, professionals can initiate a video conference and accomplish the same goals that would have been achieved after spending thousands of dollars on plane tickets and hotel rooms.

Providers and Packages

Mitel logo

Due to its growing popularity, UC solutions are offered by a wide variety of providers, including:

  • Mitel MiVoice Office 250 and 400 - The Mitel MiVoice Office suite incorporates Unified Voice Messaging with automated attendant, automatic call distribution, meet-me conferencing, teleworking, hot desking, reporting and more.
  • Mitel MiVoice Business - Mitel's business suite offers extreme scalability for today's ever-changing business environment, allowing each user to select up to eight separate devices to act as a call answer point.
  • RingCentral - RingCentral allows businesses to integrate all of their phones, PCs, and mobile devices into one platform for simplified management and billing. If a message is deleted in one place, that deletion is reflected across the system to ensure all devices always have the latest information.
  • ShoreTel - ShoreTel's software makes it easy for a business to manage all of its features and devices.
  • Avaya - Avaya has a wide variety of hardware and software options to allow each business to develop a communications suite that is ideal for its unique environment.
  • AT&T - AT&T has upgraded some of its existing customers to UC, but it signs new business customers to its UC suite of solutions.

Hardware and Software

ShoreTel UC Server 20

ShoreTel UC Server 20.

UC operates similarly to a business's data infrastructure, using a combination of hardware and software to help users accomplish their daily tasks.

At the heart of a UC system is its switches and routers, which direct traffic across the network and allow features like music-on-hold and high call quality.

Many UC providers offer a selection of software options that include both the basic applications required to power the system and the tools used to manage and deploy communications.

Whether with the help of a telecommunications provider or through its own in-house IT department, businesses can set up sophisticated work groups and add and change users as necessary.

Who is Using Unified Communications?

BC Hydro Logo

Businesses like BC Hydro are already realizing the benefits of UC for day-to-day operations. In addition to improving productivity, the company finds it now takes only two people to manage its phone system, when it had previously taken five.

Pacific City Bank found that by improving its communication skills, it was able to provide a better level of customer service without hiring additional employees. For businesses of all sizes, Unified Communications is a technology tool that streamlines operations and saves money.