Unified communications in a nutshell

I recently talked to Marcel van Wort, a senior consultant with Orange Business in The Netherlands, about the key benefits of unified communications.

Marcel, what exactly is unified communications?

Unified communications (UC) is the integration of real-time communication services such as instant messaging, presence information, telephony, video conferencing, call control and speech recognition. You can use UC to integrate all your messages: voicemail, email, SMS and fax. So UC is not a single product, it is a set of products that connect together and provide a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types.

And what are the benefits of unified communications?

UC delivers significant cost savings such as travel avoidance, reduction of office space, telecom costs and PBX systems which can be up to thousands of dollars per user per year depending on employee role and level of integration. Capital investment payback time can be less than a year and is easily achieved.

Besides these significant cost savings, UC is very useful improving business process efficiency for knowledge workers, information workers and field service workers. UC technology can adapt to someone’s job or a particular department.

And how would you describe those different aspects?

There are five different aspects to how UC can improve productivity.

1) Collaboration. UC allows co-workers, business partners, and clients to collaborate using data sharing and communication devices. In fact, people can exchange ideas, share data, screens and documents instantly.
2) Communication. UC improves business communication by integrating all available devices and modalities in a single desktop application. Thanks to the graphic user interface you can start with an instant message exchange then it can turn into a phone call then a video conference.
3) Access. It allows you to connect to the company’s internal network via wireless using PDA, laptop, netbook, or home computer.
4) Business Process Integration. UC can plug into all your business process applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain management (SCM).
5) Presence. The added value of UC technology is the real-time presence interface.
You avoid wasting time trying to get in touch with people needed urgently; for instance, end-users can get in touch with customer support specialists quickly when they need an expert to answer particular questions urgently.

You can find the complete interview on Orange Business Radio here

Virginie Tran

I am in charge of Orange Business' blogs since January 2011 as community manager in communication department. For any question, I am here !! @virginietran1 or on linked in :)

Edit from the Orange Business team: Virginie left the Orange Group since she wrote her last posts.