Business is nowadays conducted virtually rather than physically due to the sheer scale of opportunities and developments that changes such as globalisation, technological breakthroughs and advancements in society have conjured up to facilitate the ever-growing requirements of customers. Designed to facilitate and maintain the kind of communication that companies require to keep afloat and thrive, unified communications are at the forefront of technological advancement in the field of telecommunications.
Unified communications is the integration of real-time with non real-time communication services to optimise business processes. Not to be confused with unified messaging, which will only collate and keep messages from various sources, such as voicemail, fax or e-mail, for the sole purpose of allowing them to be retrieved in the future, unified communications will offer the option to retrieve e-mail, voice, video and data messages from any device, at any time.
In short, unified communications integrates communication tools so that individuals and business people alike are able to manage all their communications in one place, instead of having to rely on various devices, services and applications to do so. It is therefore said to bridge the gap between VoIP and other communication technologies that relate to the use of computers.
One component of unified communications is single number reach (SNR) service offered by Google Voice, among others, which allows people to be reached by instant messenger, soft phone, IP phone, e-mail etc. By using a single access point for all your incoming communication.
Instant messaging is also a very important capability to have as a business, when in connection with all other forms of communication.
Call conferencing is another feature of unified communications, allowing multiple collaborators to interact on a "conference call" without being in the same physical location. This is great for businesses who have multiple offices throughout the country/globally and an equally far reaching customer base.
Another service is speech access, which proves essential for people who wish to share information but are unable to write or operate a device single-handedly and mainly consists in voice recognition software that can perform various essential functions on a device.
Together, instant messaging, telephony, video conferencing, call control, speech recognition and data sharing make up the array of real-time communication services, while unified messaging is a form of non real-time communication service, the two branches that, used in conjunction, constitute unified communications.
Being able to maintain permanent contact and to share information and collaborate at work across different continents and cultures has given businesses the opportunity to employ the most suitable employees.
With regard to interactive collaboration and collateral participation from workmates across the globe, audio, video and web conferencing and sharing prove absolutely vital in reducing costs that would have otherwise been incurred on telecoms and travel.
As a soft phone or wireless IP handset user, one’s mobility in connection is guaranteed even outside personal wireless network ranges, which is essential for most people, nowadays.
Finally, having all communication services coming from a single provider is an obvious advantage, as this eliminates the need for time-consuming and lengthy registration and billing processes, especially for businesses.
Unified communications transcend space and defy time and it is only a matter of time before they gobble up another technological telecommunications breakthrough, expanding and creating new dimensions of communication for businesses and individuals. The possibilities UC can unravel in a human lifetime are endless and we can only stand on awe of the technologies unfurling before our eyes like a book that seems to reveal a new page every time we think we've read the last one.