The history of business is the history of communication. Advances in modes of communication have shaped the way business is done. A recent example of this can be seen in the proliferation of remote knowledge based workers. Communications tools that have become common place in recent decades include telephony systems and voicemail, audio, video and web conferencing, software based collaboration tools and email.

The current suite of segregated office communications tools has made communication faster and information flow greater, but arguably access to more (and more disconnected) information has inhibited productivity where it might have been expected to enhance it. It seems apparent now that these disconnected tools have become part of the problem.

Unified Communication (UC) seeks to address this problem by giving enterprises the ability to communicate and collaborate better. The goal of UC is to enable the entire extended enterprise including remote workers to communicate and collaborate in real time. Organisations can harness superior collaboration and knowledge sharing as the basis for competitive advantage.

Unified Communications Defined

UC integrates voice, video, conferencing, messaging, and presence with office and business-process applications to improve collaboration. UC is the convergence of all forms of audio, video, Web, desktop and mobile communications on an IP network that breaks down all distance, time and media barriers. UC enables people to communicate with each other anywhere, any time, over any device. UC makes it possible to move away from technologically focused means of communication, for example, at present for one user to contact another by telephone they dial the number of another telephone.

Unified Communications applications seek to re-engineer our understanding of communication along these lines:

  • Person centric communications using a single identity: you communicate with a person, you don't dial a device.
  • Presence based communications: you only attempt to communicate with someone who is advertising their willingness and ability to communicate with you at any given moment.
  • Streamlined communications: you can choose the right communications method, move from one communications method to another, and maintain the context of all communications methods (for example, subject and content) across the different methods.

UC is made accessible to the user on their computer desktop providing intuitive interfaces (often embedded in other business applications) to multiple communication channels. For example, provided that appropriate core infrastructure is in place, video/audio/web conferencing, video streaming, video on demand, instant messaging, document sharing/collaboration and IP telephony can all be delivered to the desktop that user is working from.

Watch this video to see how Avaya enables UC from the desktop (requires Flash Player)

The Value Proposition for Unified Communication

The value proposition of UC is multifaceted. UC is one of the few technology initiatives that can help organizations lower overall IT costs while improving user productivity. Specifically, UC can:

  • Lower the cost of corporate communications because UC can be centralised for the enterprise
  • Improve worker productivity through advanced collaboration tools
  • Create new communications-enabled business processes
  • Improve customer satisfaction

Specific applications of Unified Communications can be hypothesized in areas which are communication-intensive, information critical and often time sensitive, for example Contact Centres. Further opportunities can be seen in the areas such as project implementation and design development where the communication requirements are similar to those above but also require multiple approval steps and input from multiple stakeholders.

Nonetheless all parts of the enterprise are likely to benefit from improved communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing. UC will evolve from providing seamless communications to being embedded in corporate applications, allowing companies to create communications-enabled business processes. These communications-centric processes will streamline or even automate much of the human delay in communications.

Datavoice can help your enterprise embrace the new world of UC and meet the challenges of deployment with confidence.

Further Information

PDF file Avaya UC Professional Edition [PDF approx. 704 kb]

PDF file Avaya UC Standard Edition [PDF approx. 820 kb]