As an important enabler of business growth, Unified Communications (UC) facilitates seamless productive collaboration through the convergence of communication services and tools including email, IM, video conferencing and telephony. UC adds the dimensions of flexibility, connectivity and responsiveness to internal workplace environment as well as external appearance of your business.
Utilizing technologies, services and devices within a single platform, UC streamlines collaboration between people enabling a better user experience and providing a greater freedom in responding to messages, voice and video calls anytime, anywhere and from any device.
Security and compliance concerns of UC are addressed through the standardization of communication processes and device utilization and the enforcement of identity management.
Business processes streamlined with the incorporation of UC services have the potential to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
Core UC Components include:
- E-mail and Instant Messaging with Presence
- IP telephony
- Video conferencing
- Shared Virtual Workspace
- File sharing
UC as a Service Vs On-premises
Skype for Business and Exchange, core components of Microsoft’s UC platform are available both on-premises and as a service from the cloud. The latter is a preferred option for most businesses, providing multiple cloud-enabled benefits including instant scalability and quality of services secured by SLA, and eliminating infrastructure ownership and maintenance issues. There is more good news; the total ownership costs of a hosted UC is much lower than on-premises UC.
Microsoft Exchange Server and Skype for Business can be deployed on-premises, usually in large corporations still reluctant in moving towards the cloud due to security and compliance concerns. The overall benefits from cost efficiencies in resource management, data storage and application deployment has offset some of these concerns. However, take note that any risks are mitigated through appropriate business recovery measures.
Benefits of Unified Communications
- Productivity. The UC platform integrates communication tools in a consistent and standardized way. This empowers employees to interact using seamlessly integrated tools resulting in a greater intensity of communications. Work tasks from initiation through monitoring and completion leads to quality work resulting from greater collaboration with peers, management and the organization.
- User Experience. A positive user experience is a key factor that contributes towards a successful UC initiative. Within organizations, the social influence of colleagues combined with the personal performance expectations of employees determine the effectiveness of UC implementation. Towards this end, UC has to be customized such as in client interface, seamless device shifts and even incorporating social media.
- Cost and Resource Savings. The streamlining and integration of communication tools leads to greater cost efficiencies in utilization of material, human and time resources. IP telephony reduces telephone bills while the availability of video and audio conferencing moderates travel expenses. On the infrastructure side, the replacement of legacy, stand-alone communications infrastructure results in lower overheads and operating costs while the increase in employee productivity through individual and team collaboration leads to the rationalization of employee head count.