Unified Communications Definition
Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Contributor(s): John Burke
Unified communications refers to a broad set of real-time and asynchronous communications tools, primarily consisting of the following:
Email is sometimes included under the UC umbrella as well.
Unified communications overlaps collaboration significantly; collaboration tools such as those providing service desk automation or project management systems often incorporate UC features, like team chat, or integrate with external UC systems for those functions. UC also overlaps with contact center technologies -- for example, in the form of automated call distribution (ACD) and interactive voice response (IVR) systems.
UC's mandate is to connect users no matter where they are or what they are using; it encompasses participants in a variety of contexts:
· Traditional office environments, with users on computers and using desk phones or softphones and individual webcams.
· Enterprise conference rooms using speaker phones, a shared display system, and a shared camera system (which might be traditional conferencing systems or high-end telepresence systems).
· Remote participants working from mobile devices including tablets and smart phones, using the audio and video native to the device.
Ideally, a unified communications environment is in some sense "unified" -- i.e., it is integrated with the back-end systems providing services and/or in the front-end clients providing access. For example, in a UC environment, ideally, the Web conferencing system makes use of the audio conferencing system, which in turn is built on the core IP telephony platform, and the email client allows click-to-talk, click-to-chat, or click-to-video functionality.
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