Author: Jim Machi – VP of Marketing, Sangoma
I still regularly get questions asking me to explain Unified Communications systems. It’s a murky topic, so that’s understandable. There are various reasons the topic isn’t as clear as it could be, but I’ll name two. When the term ‘Unified Communications systems’ was first used, it mainly meant you could listen to your voice mails through your email. This streamlined a sometimes tedious task. The system sent the voice mail as a .wav file to your email. Presto! When on the road or away from the office, you could listen to your voicemails (there were many more then than now!) while checking your email. Then you did not have to worry about queuing up at the airport at the phone kiosks (yes, remember those?). So, many people still associate Unified Communications systems with voice mail.
But, as the industry progressed, businesses added more functionality to these systems utilizing this voice mail to email feature. And if you added one thing, like chat, you called them Unified Communications systems. Then if you added another feature, like screen share, or even a major function, like fax, you still called them Unified Communications systems. So the concept of these Unified Communications systems became a bucket. And even if a vendor didn’t have everything that one could have in one of these systems, they still went all out in calling their offerings Unified Communications systems. Industry hype contributed significantly to the concept’s murkiness. Everyone was eager to use the term, regardless of what they offered.
So what are Unified Communications systems to Sangoma?
For us, Unified Communication systems combine every communication method into one system. This allows users to switch between phone calls, chat, SMS, fax, and more using a single tool or application.
Unified Communications systems are beneficial for organizations as they significantly enhance team collaboration and productivity, which also reduces costs.
Features that foster this increased productivity include softphones, mobility, presence and video conferencing, where employees can easily work from home, receive voicemail messages while traveling, and more. The ease of mobility and utilizing smartphones in your office setup is a key advantage to Unified Communications systems.
So, in short, “Unified Communications” is a term used to describe the complete integration of modes of communication and the ability to switch effortlessly between them to support and enhance the exchange of information and ideas.
I promised to explain Unified Communications systems in a minute and 45 seconds. Hopefully, it took you less than that time to read this blog. But also take a look at this video, which is also 1 minute and 45 seconds 😊.