In researching business phone systems, you probably come across the phrase “Unified Communications” a lot. But what is unified communications (UC)? Why is everyone talking about it? It doesn’t help any that UC is only one of the many acronyms that get bandied about. This primer will help you get in the know — ASAP.
What is UC?
Just as the days of communicating with full words instead of abbreviations and acronyms are a thing of the past (JK, lol), the idea of communicating via voice only is old school too. Unified Communications or UC refers to a streamlined, often cloud-based, solution that brings video, chat, conferencing and more together in a single platform along with voice services.
How? By bringing the voice communications to the Internet via VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol. With VoIP (commonly pronounced ‘voyp’) the human voice becomes an analog data packet that can be transmitted via the Internet.
Thus, UC takes all of the tools the business uses on a given day and deploys them in a single service for easy user adoption. For example, employees can link their own cell phones (if you’re a BYOD, bring your own device office) to work phones and transfer calls seamlessly, to wherever they are, via UC, which also includes IM (instant messaging). At the same time, workers can work out of a single, unified inbox that collects email, fax, voicemail transcriptions and more — in one place.
UCaaS and other important acronyms
So, now that you know the meaning of UC, you may be able to guess the meaning of UCaaS. But, just in case, it refers to Unified Communications as a Service, much as SaaS applications (Gmail, Office 365, or Skype) are Software as a Service applications.
With UCaaS you partner with a vendor who can help customize your UC solution to your needs, integrating the platform with your existing applications and unique networking solutions. Btw, a CRM, or Customer Relationship Management tool, is one of the many acronyms you may want to integrate with your UC.
Other acronymic features include:
IM& P — with Instant Messaging and Presence (IM&P) you can find out if associates are available, on a call, or away from their desks. Additionally, the feature supports multi-party chats and enables information exchange and file sharing while maintaining security and compliance.
ACD — Automatic Call Distribution lets you set up sophisticated routing rules to determine the most appropriate agent for each call to reduce call response time and enhance caller experience.
IVR — Interactive Voice Response is an enhanced version of an automated attendant. This technology can use voice recognition as well as advanced routing scripts to get the caller to the right person at the right time. Some IVRs also handle payments, retrieving or receiving information, and more.
QoS – In the world of UC, Quality of Service gauges the service performance of the internet connection and establishes network settings to prioritize the many forms of UC data transfer to suit your needs.
Plus, a UC phone system makes Moves, Adds and Changes (MACS) easier and less costly. Since the system is managed through a web-based portal, authorized managers can quickly add users, set schedules, and send notifications with just a few clicks.
The web-based portal is useful too in the event of a weather-, power- or technology-related disaster. Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR) are both more efficient and effective as software-defined networking (SDN) combines the bandwidth of multiple public connections (from nearly any carrier) into a single, faster, more reliable virtual connection that can be used for secure access to business communications wherever there is Internet.
Evolve IP has been noted in Gartner’s Midmarket Guide for Unified Communications and labeled “a best-of-breed UCaaS offering” by Gartner. Consult with us today!