So What Exactly is Unified Communications?

One of the goals that I have here at OSDUC is to clear up some of the confusion around the concepts and terms around Unified Communications.  If you look out there, you will find countless definitions of a variety of UC related topics such as Presence, Collaboration, Advanced Applications and so forth.  Equally, you will find plenty of confusion on what exactly Unified Communications is as well.  Compounding the challenge of defining these terms are the manufactures - Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft and so forth - throwing out there respective definitions of these terms which inevitably have a specific product tie.  

So with that in mind, let me throw out this definition of Unified Communications for you and tell me what you think:

Unified Communications is, fundamentally, the melding together of voice, data and applications.  This melding brings together disparate systems into a unified solution that eliminates barriers between communication, information and knowledge workers.

So let's break down this definition a bit further.  The key to all of this is that you are bringing together all of your voice, data and applications into one, cohesive solution.  Gone are the barriers that cause breakdowns in communication such as multiple networks (think voice networks and separate data networks) as well as application platforms (think PCs versus Apples versus mobile devices).  This unification brings together everything into one centralized (logically speaking) solution that can be accessed anywhere, at any time, from any device.  AOTMAP said it best in a recent UC report:  "Unified Communications is, in essence, the convergence of communication networks: all data, accessible in all ways."

Now how this unification happens can take on a lot of different shapes and sizes depending on the way your organization wants to approach it.  It could be a hybrid solution leveraging existing technology within the organization.  It could be a completely new solution utilizing all new technology and products.  There are drawbacks and benefits to both approaches but keep in mind that the real goal of Unified Communications is simplifying your organziations communications needs.

So there is my definition of Unified Communications.  It's really simple if you think about it for very long.

Now the questions become why you should unify your communications and what the benefits to your organization or when you do so?

I'll take these two questions on in my next post.

In the meantime, post your thoughts on my definition.  How do you define Unified Communications?

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This page contains a single entry by Clinton Fitch published on February 20, 2009 1:27 AM.

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