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Advantages of Unified Communications

1 Oct, 2012 By: Dr. Satwant Kaur, HP imageSource

Unified CommEach issue, imageSource looks to Dr. Satwant Kaur (First Lady of Emerging Technologies) to share cutting edge technology advances, concepts, and opportunities with our readers. This month she addresses the operations and opportunities found in Unified Communications.

[imageSource]: What exactly is Unified Communications?

[Satwant]: Unified communications (UC) is the integration of different kinds of real-time communication services so as to provide a unified user interface and user experience across multiple computing devices and multiple communication types. Not only that, UC enables users to immediately receive a message on the communication system they are using or logged on regardless of which medium was used to send communications. Unified communications help us reduce latency in alerts and other emergency and non-emergency communications. UC also helps manage automated work flows no matter what computing device and communication media is being used. Thus, Unified Communications are emerging as a forefront of technology that brings great business advantages.

[imageSource]: What kinds of communications are integrated under United Communications?

[Satwant]: Today’s businesses are spread across diverse geographies; hence UC is emerging as one of the most critical business technologies today to help collaboration and communication between far flung workforces. And, the list of communications under UC is ever growing & consists of a convergence of diverse sets of real time and non real time communications, such as:

  • Real Time Communications include Instant Messaging, Presence Information, Video Conferencing, Live Data Sharing and Speech Recognition.
  • Non-real-time Communications include Unified Messaging, e-mail, Fax.
  • Voice communications integrated with webex, video conference, instant messaging and live file sharing.
  • Voice over IP integrated with personal digital assistants.
  • Skype for basic videoconferencing.
  • UC bundles of web, video, voice conferencing and other collaboration tools.
  • Video on Mobile Devices – Video is more effective than audio conferences. An increasing number of solution providers are now providing video communications. The mobile workforce is increasing mobile videoconferencing receptivity to businesses; video solutions are moving away from enterprise conference room-based systems to Mobile Video UC technologies.

[imageSource]: What are the Technologies behind Unified Communications?

[Satwant]: Traditional TDM voice services are replaced by Telephony over IP (ToIP) services. The adoption of IP for both data and voice has enabled management of converged voice and data applications. The traditional voice vendor business is now taken over by the data vendors. Some specific trends include:

  • Converged IP network has now become the converged medium for all kinds of voice and data communications over computing networks and devices. Many protocols such as TC/IP, IPTV, SIP, and Digital Signage have been used for united communications are all built on top of IP.
  • IP network is the emerging technology backbone where all corporate communications are converging in. Voice, mobile, video conferencing, instant messaging has now transitioned to IP network, thus making the Unification of Communications even more natural and easy.
  • Use of SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) as the backbone for most VoIP and UC platforms. SIP helps bind multiple media types together and allows for the seamless integration of voice, video and IM. Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) enables endpoints to find one another, establish a session and terminate the session once communication is complete. It is the signaling standard for any type of rich media session. SIP trunks consolidate traffic and increase call quality, security and costs.

[imageSource]: What are Emerging Capabilities in Unified Communications?

[Satwant]: UC began with IP telephony. Then Video-conferencing, positioning and location based services were added to mobile devices. Now emerging capabilities include social media systems, Cloud based UC, SIP links, hosted IP-PBXes, and mass storage systems, including:

  • Integration with communications into off-the-shelf tools such as Outlook, Notes, BlackBerry, Salesforce.com, and many others.
  • Unified Communications that cater to specialized verticals,such as health care.
  • WebEx Communication tool pops a name appears under the person who is talking in the conference call, thus making it easy to understand who is saying what.
  • Presence Communication eliminates phone tags and voice mails.
  • Unified Communications working wirelessly on the Mobile Devices.
  • Cloud-based Unified Communications with Redundancy & Disaster Recovery.
  • Integration of UC and Social Networking.
  • Email, telephony, SMS, IM, audio and video conferencing, blogging and micro-blogging; Google and Yahoo IM, Duplex VoIP, media sharing, child position tracking, and email reading.
  • The enterprise workforce is connected in real time and can collaborate and share data, documents and ideas.

Unified communications technology acquires information from diverse sources and can transmission information to diverse targets. Thus it can improve business processes and intelligent decision making.

[imageSource]: Tell us about Unified Communications on Mobile Devices.

[Satwant]: Smartphones, Skype, and mobility have enabled emerging trends in Unified Communications; one of those is UC on mobile devices:

  • Using just one single mobile device, the “tetherless” user gets Unified Communications from a variety of communications such as video and audio, Skype with video, FaceTime on an iPad or iPhone, email, speech recognition; all on the mobile device that we carry.
  • Mobility and Wireless advancements have enabled the dispersed workforces to communicate with a technology mash-up of enterprise as well as consumer communication tools.
  • UC provides us greater efficiency in managing the increasing volume of incoming and outgoing communications from a variety of communication mediums.
  • In order to have video images of good quality we need broadband everywhere because all these video meetings require lot of bandwidth.

[imageSource]: What do you think of Cloud-based Unified Communications?

[Satwant]: Unified communications are transforming the way we work and communicate. UC reduce communications costs and bring improvements in employee productivity and efficiency as well as employee mobility and flexibility. Unified communications technology integrated with cloud brings many benefits.

  • Cloud-based unified communications enables deployment of a fully integrated unified communications solution without huge upfront capital investments. Cloud based UC also enables flexibility and mobility in the workforce.
  • Cloud-based unified communications enables remote business communications to be seamless from anywhere with a web-based user interface. Some examples of cloud based UC are Personal Auto-Attendant, Find-Me-Follow-Me and Single Number Access.

[imageSource]: Tell us about INTEGRATION of social networking & UC.

[Satwant]: Coupling of the advances in the social networking technologies with emerging technologies of unified communications enables revolutionary changes in workforce communications:

  • Sharing of social data in enterprises through social networking applications enables collaboration and innovation.
  • Unified communications when adopted by enterprises enables both real time and non-real time communications such as click-to-call, click-to-IM, presence, and voice mail.
  • Coupling these two will allow UC communication data objects to be stored as social data objects that can be searched and tagged just as it is done for people. Hence we can locate and follow people who have taken part in certain kind of expert communications.

[imageSource]: Tell us about Secured Unified Communication systems.

[Satwant]: Unified communications is an emerging area of innovation in enterprise IT. Enterprises can lower costs & improve productivity with a far flung workforce by employing UC.

  • A simple UC meant Voice Mail, e-mail, Faxing, Instant Messaging, Voice over IP, and IP video; now it has newer communication tools integrated as one.
  • Newer communication tools are data sharing and a presence which provides info on your geographical location & status. Includes Skype and Google Voice. 

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