Unified communications: moving beyond the basics

In a report on Channel Insider, author Chris Talbot, looked at the main evolutions regarding unified communications in 2011 and identified several drivers for the future, along with some analysts.

Unified communications took a giant leap forward in 2011. Businesses seem to be catching on to the many ways UC can improve their productivity as they take on the latest, most advanced features vendors now offer.

Among the most attractive parts of unified communications that have gained the most popularity over 2011, Talbot writes, include integration with mobile devices and video. These technologies are now being leveraged by businesses to provide enhanced interactions with customers in ways that aim to increase customer service and satisfaction.

The fact that UC has grown even during disturbing economic times is a sure indicator that businesses have found its associated technologies to be profitable even when customers are scaling back their economic activities. This benefit to business is almost certain to continue fuelling sales of UC products that will make the industry profitable well into the coming year, according to the article.

One of the palpable trends in the UC world is the convergence of collaboration and social media technologies with existing technology in ways that change the way businesses communicate internally and with their customers.

End users are driving the adoption of new unified communication technologies: mobility and BYOD

In the report on the state of unified communications, Talbot, identifies the accelerated adoption of UC as one that is steady, but lacklustre compared to the expectations of some analysts. However, as companies build on their success with existing UC platforms, they are expected to increasingly turn to UC vendors for solutions that will integrate IP-based PBX systems with presence and instant messaging.

An important observation is that end users, not executives are driving the adoption of new UC technologies that accommodate mobility and the trend toward bring your own device workers. More businesses and individuals now expect their personal devices to integrate with their employer’s resources in ways that will boost their own productivity. BYOD is a sensitive issue because employers like the idea of using IT resources paid for by their employees, but don’t like the added independence those employees have to find their own ways to work and to service customers, Talbot writes.

The role of video and cloud computing in unified communications

Cloud computing is yet another trend that will influence UC in the coming year. Cloud-based UC will make it possible for distributed and remote workforces to enjoy the benefits of unified communications without its traditional limitations. As employers continue adopting cloud technologies in general, analysts expect them to instinctively resort to cloud-based UC.

And, obviously, the role of video will be huge as well.

Although UC has benefited companies by improving internal collaboration, it has also improved collaboration with customers who now expect companies to adapt to consumer contact preferences. This means that customer contact centres will continue moving toward video and social contact methods as new and updated UC products roll out during the year.

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