Unified communications is a business and technology trend that has been ramping up for a few years now. The term refers to the streamlining of all types of communications in order to increase the efficiency of sharing information. Any business that wishes to improve productivity should consider learning more about the tools that are available to unify communications.
Defining Unified Communications
Perhaps the phrase ?unified communications? is, in and of itself, one of the best ways to define the idea behind this trend. This trend is all about connecting all forms of communication so that you can easily integrate them. For example, you may integrate your voice calls and email together so that you can receive a message in one form (ie voice mail) but easily respond in another form (such as email).
Examples of Major Tools for Unified Communications
There are many different tools and software programs available to create unified communications. Some of the biggest examples include:
??VoIP. One of the first tools to really begin unifying communications was VoIP service. This is phone service which is routed through the Internet. This method of communication allows for easy integration of online information with voice interaction. For example, with VoIP it is possible to easily access and send files to someone with whom you are speaking.
??Advances in mobile unified communications. Mobile phones are now capable of playing a big role in unified communications because you can use them to retrieve calls, exchange information and access web and IM programs. Using functions such as call forwarding it is possible to streamline all communication with a mobile phone.
??Services like Google Voice. Google Voice is one example of a service that makes it easy to archive and retrieve information from voice mail messages. Phone calls are converted into text and then can be saved and searched through online. Additionally, this service allows you to use one phone number to be reached at all phones which is another method of streamlining communications.
??True Unified Communications Solutions. All of the above are examples of services that combine some aspects of communication but there are also true unified communications software solutions that offer much more integration of services. These services can combine voice, email, IM, fax, collaboration, conferencing, file sharing and more to have completely integrated communication. Microsoft and Cisco are two big businesses that offer this type of solution.
Goals of Unified Communications
The major goal of unified communications is to increase the efficiency of business communications. Information that can be received in various forms can be responded to with more immediacy than information passed through only one form of communication. Communication with more than one person at a time, communication while traveling and the easy archiving and searching of all types of messages are some of the ways that efficiency (and therefore productivity) may be increased with unified communications.
How Unified Communications Relates to Productivity
A big feature of productivity is the reduction of wasted time. When businesses are able to use their time efficiently, they are able to maximize their productivity. Being able to communicate easily in various forms facilitates this. Reduced delays in communication and organized archiving and retrieval of information are two of the biggest benefits of unified communications in terms of immediate and ongoing productivity for businesses. This makes a lot more sense than using separate systems for everything!
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