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Is unified communications the answer for all my clients?

Supporters of unified communications (UC) claim it can save companies time and money. Find out in this expert answer whether UC is the answer for the networking needs of all-sized companies.

Is unified communications the answer for all my clients? Are there alternatives to be considered?

The answer to these questions very much depends upon the operation of the specific client and how you define unified communications. Based upon the vendor you ask, the definition of unified communications can vary between "VoIP with collaboration layered on top" to "collaboration with real-time communications thrown in." For the sake of simplicity, we will assume the first definition.

Even though we now have our definition of unified communications established, the range of applications is still pretty vast, making it likely that some form of unified communications can be a good fit for the majority of your clients one way or another. For clients that are highly mobile, unified communications is a hit. When more specifically defined as "unified messaging," emails, voice-mails and instant messages can all ultimately converge to one mobile device. The biggest benefit of this is convenience and time savings, because users no longer have to manage various systems to access their various messages -- instead their messages are delivered to one platform independent of their source.

Another example of unified communications is the convergence of voice within mission-critical data applications. The most common example of this is CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software integration with VoIP, which automatically pops up information about the caller when their phone rings. This allows employees to be more effective when retrieving and recording customer information.

Of the unified communication systems currently available, there is probably a creative application of the technology to your clients' operations. And if there is not by now, there probably will be soon as data and voice continues to rapidly converge.

This was last published in December 2007

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