What is Unified Communications (UC) really all about? In this post we’ll introduce the unified communications concept in general, including O365 and Microsoft Teams as the modern worker’s new dashboard followed by a detailed look at its features including chat, presence, telephony, video conferencing, document sharing, Office & application integration.
Today we work more collaboratively than years ago. Workers spend a significant amount of time together in teams that are globally distributed. The need to work from anywhere, anytime as a mobile workforce has become the norm, not the exception.
Workers require unified communications tools that are available across all devices and without media discontinuity for the best end-user experience. The latest workforce generation is already mobile-enabled with a set of devices and social tools. Ensuring your organization deploys attractive work tools is essential to meet their expectations and acquire top talent.
In addition, with the speed of today’s business environment, it is vital to manage daily information overload in a structured way – this means joint contextual work in projects, as a team. This allows teams to work more efficiently without a constant change of context, in a UC tool in which the entire project lifecycle is managed.
Components of Unified Communications
If you look up the Gartner definition of unified communications, you delve into more specifics regarding what must be a part of a unified communications solution in order to qualify for their magic quadrant. Gartner states that UC must include:
- Voice and telephony, with fixed, mobile and softphone support
- Meeting solutions – audio, video, and web-conferencing
- Messaging – email with voice and unified messaging
- Presence and instant messaging
- Clients – desktop and browser
- Communication enabled applications
In combining all of these capabilities into a single unified communications platform you have increased business efficiencies, increased work productivity, enhanced communication with customers, and reduced gaps in communication whether it is missed emails, missed calls or lost documents.
UC is set to grow
The trend towards a cohesive unified communications platform is definitely not slowing down. The global unified communications market is set to grow at 16.8% CAGR through 2024 – reaching $143.49B over the next six years. The expansion of organizations across multiple disparate geographies is one driving factor for the growth. Employees need to be able to communicate no matter the time zone, language barrier, or continent they might work on.
Further adoption is being fuelled by Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). In the past, organizations had no choice but to roll out unwieldy on-premises based telephony and messaging servers. With cloud-based solutions companies are able to spin up unified communications instances more easily and in a more affordable manner. In fact, Gartner’s latest magic quadrant report for UCaaS found that 90% of IT executives will stop investing in new on-premises UC infrastructure by 2021 as cloud adoption continues to accelerate.
In short, unified communications is a set of technologies that helps you communicate anywhere, anytime, work more efficiently and potentially even change how you work to streamline existing processes.
However, the unknown quantity in the release of every new technology is how your employees will use it. So it’s key to have a proper discovery period to understand why your organization is exploring UC technologies. This discovery period needs to focus on how the business operates, and not solely be driven by a need to purchase UC for the sake of acquiring new technology.