Unified communications (UC) is a marketing term used to refer to many different things. As far as telephone systems are concerned, this concept refers to a network of various devices such as desktop phones, mobile phones, computers, allowing several media to be controlled by the same user at the same time. Video conferencing, media sharing, desktop sharing are enabled and the same correspondents can exchange voice conversations, text messages, written documents at the same time during the same “conference”. Various applications like Salesforce, Google Docs, DropBox or Outlook can be used in collaborative mode.
Unified communications differ from unified messaging, inasmuch as unified messaging grants access, through a single interface, to e-mail, voice mail, SMS and fax messages, but does not allow synchronous, real-time communications. Unified communications can also be taken on the road, keeping users within the company network or private branch exchange.
Advantages of unified communications include:
- unified messaging,
- possible customisation with features such as calendaring, scheduling, integrated voice response...,
- possible integration with e-commerce, for customer service, sales and CRM purposes,
- possible use as an emergency communications platform.
Main phone providers offering unified communications solutions include Mitel, a pioneer in cloud communication systems, RingCentral, known for its cloud-based PBX system, and global leader Cisco, which enjoys partnerships with Yahoo!, Skype and Microsoft.
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