Will all communications be unified in the future?

Many companies are getting on board with Unified Communications, but Jennifer Scott investigates whether this model is the way all business communications are set to go.

ANALYSIS Unified Communications (UC) has become a common phrase in the realms of business IT. The idea of bringing together voice and data into a central offering has had techies buzzing over the past decade and now, with the video option starting to be incorporated, it could spell a big change into the way firms operate.

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So if Unified Communications is having the effect on businesses the telecoms companies would lead us to believe, will this be the model of the future for all business communications?

First we have to get to grips with what the state of the market is now. Whilst adoption of voice and data packages has grown tremendously over the past 10 years, the definition of UC has begun to change, as more elements of communication are included.

Clive Longbottom, service director and business process analyst at Quocirca, believes we haven't got a set definition across the board yet and as the incorporation of more types of communication increases, businesses may not be ready for full UC.

He told IT PRO: "The problem is in what UC is - is it just bringing voice, data and video together, or is it bringing the various different forms of communication and collaboration (e.g. email, social networking, fax, instant messaging, etc) together in a cohesive manner?"

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Longbottom claimed if it was the latter, the same mistakes were being made around how to fully integrate new technologies into an older system.

Despite these problems though, there is no question UC in its current, common form, has had a massive affect on the way telecoms operate.

"At one level, the telecoms department is essentially dead as voice has become part of the data centre," added Longbottom.

"For some users, UC has led to a complete change in how voice is used - incoming calls kick off events in the data world, bringing all sorts of information to the user's screen, particularly in the call centre."

He also claimed UC was great for governance purposes, with monitoring and measuring every part of the data easy.

Then, for many, it is also a case of cost saving. With Voice over IP (VoIP) calls often cost nothing, and this is a bonus in any businessman's book, be it during a recession or a period of growth.

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