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Define Unified Communication: For New Partners in the Channel

June 30, 2017

Define Unified Communication: For New Partners in the Channel

Communication has come a long way over time; before cell phones, people had to find a payphone to make a call while on the go. Slow and time-consuming fax machines were used to send hard-copy messages; today, people use email instead. Communication has become faster, easier, and more convenient for end-users, but much more complex to design, implement, and maintain. So what is UCC? It is the convergence of voice, video, Web, desktop, and mobile communications through an Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications system. UCC is expected to include the following:

  • Telephony/voice communications: The basic phone call is still the foundation of any UCC strategy. Calls can be set up to route to users based on a single telephone number. The caller dials one number and connects to the person he or she wants to reach regardless of where that person is: home, on the road, or in the office. Unlike older, traditional telephone systems, today’s systems use the data network the connect users and callers.

  • Unified messaging: Voicemail and email are methods to communicate when a user cannot reach someone in real time. The convergence of voicemail and email through a single mailbox is called unified messaging and is a critical part of UCC. Messages can be checked through desk phones, mobile phones, and softphones. Voice messages can be sent to email, thus allowing users to scan through and manage messages quickly, and emails can be read to the recipient via voice mail. These applications save employees time, enhance productivity, and simplify message management.

  • Chat/IM: Instant messaging (IM) started in the consumer world, but it has rapidly evolved into a business tool and plays a big role in UCC. It is a simple way to communicate with fellow workers when just a few words are needed. When combined with presence status, workers can tell if the person they want to reach is on the phone, available, not available, out on vacation, in a meeting, and more, thus improving the chance of connecting.

  • Conferencing/multimedia conferencing: The ability to quickly bring large groups of people together on a conference call, as well as video and Web conferencing, are effective ways UCC can increase efficiency and productivity in any organization. Video calls are particularly effective for communication because all parties can identify non-verbal queues, thus allowing for clarity. Web conferencing is effective for allowing multiple parties to view and comment on a common document at the same time.  

  • Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC): This is the ability to seamlessly move calls back and forth between a business phone system and a mobile communications system. This capability is also known as single number reach. Callers can dial one number and reach recipients wherever they are without having to track them down.

  • Mobile client: A softphone application that allows employees to manage calls on a PC is another key way UCC facilitates anytime, anywhere communication with single number reach. Workers can have all the capabilities of their desk phones in software format on their laptops, thus allowing them to work anywhere at any time.

  • Presence: With so many people working in so many different locations, employees need “presence status,” which is the ability to see someone’s availability: out of the office, away at a meeting or on vacation, busy on a call, and so on.

  • Contact centers: A contact center lets a business set up special call routing and handling for sales, service, and other functions. In the past, only large companies could afford contact centers, but any size company can utilize this capability today. Contact center agents receive screen pops that allows them to view customer information on their PC screens as the customer calls in, thus facilitating streamlined service.

For new partners in the channel, this is a basic overview of UCC features and benefits. There is plenty of additional information on the Ingram Micro Advisor site. New partners should understand what UCC consists of, the benefits to enterprises, and how to gain their interest.

Are there more introductory UCC concepts that should be addressed in this blog? Comment below: