Unified Communications, simply said, is self-explanatory. In that it is the integration (one can say unification) of multiple communication tools into a collaborative mechanism. In a broader sense, UC encapsulates diverse communications exchanged via a network with other forms of communication, allowing one-to- many communication as easily as one does one-to- one.
In a practical sense, UC facilitates sending a message in one form and medium, but receive the same via another form and medium. Sounds cryptic? One needs to be in a UC space to comprehend this better. In other words, in a typical UC setting, a web conferencing system can interact with an audio conferencing set-up which, in turn, could be built on an underlying IP telephony platform; a unified messaging client could allow CTT, CTC, CTC (click-to- talk; click-to- chat; or click-to- video) functionalities.
For instance, if you are receiving a voicemail, you can choose to access it through e-mail, or a mobile phone. If the sender and receiver are online and can accept calls, the message can be sent through text chat or video call as well.
For someone considered a professional, it is nothing but a technology jargon laden with acronyms, say, VoIP, POTS, PBX & IPPBX, VC, WC,IP, IPT, IPTV, SIP, and…tomorrow there may be more!
Amusing, isn’t it? Looking from this perspective, today it is difficult to define Unified Communications. For, it depends upon the industry professional one is interacting with. For what was once a very simple telecommunications mechanism has over the years evolved from one innovation to the other, reaching a stage today that encompasses, almost every mode of communication, and still leaves space for more!
A few definitions culled out from different perspectives, but with one intent:
- Unified Communications is a platform of ever expanding technologies that automates and unifies human and device communications into a common context and experience
- UC is a set of interacting telecommunication tools that optimizes business processes and enhances human communications by reducing latency, managing messaging flow, and eliminating device and media dependencies
- UC is an elevated framework for integrating various asynchronous and real-time communication tools, tasked to enhancing business communications and collaboration- thereby contributing to productivity
- UC is a cluster of similarly operating diverse technologies. It does not represent a singular technology; rather, it blends and describes an interconnected system of communication devices and applications that can be used separately or successively
Typically said, the summary objective of UC is to integrate diverse hardware and software applications to harmonize synchronous and asynchronous communication so the end user has easy access to all tools from whatever device is in use.
Interestingly enough, UC set-up can be deployed on a ground premises, or on Cloud (public or private), or even a combination of all three. The Cloud-based UC set-up is often referred to as UC as a Service (UcaaS) while an open source set-up is referred to as WebRTC which facilitates real-time communications embedded into web browsers.
Even as UC evolves from set to set, there is a parallel template of technology called Collaboration proliferating rather fast and forging an increasing overlap with UC. It appears that both UC and Collaboration are the two inter-operable models of communication for the current tech generation, and they are expanding to integrate more and more options.