Unified Communications in the Channel

Unified Messaging holds a great deal of promise in terms of convenience. Imagine being able to click on an icon for a colleague on your computer screen, and then see a range of options for communicating with that individual. Are they in the office? You would automatically ring up their office number. At home? Doesn’t matter, your UM system would ring up their home instead. In the car in between? Ring the mobile. On the beach in Thailand? Well, you might be out of luck there.

Unified Communication (UC), often confused with Unified Messaging, holds similar promise, by integrating real-time applications such as chat, voice calls, and online conferencing, as well as “presence” technology. “Presence” is explained by looking at its most prominent implementation, which is in Instant Messaging—the little message by your icon that tells whether you’re online or not.

It shouldn’t be that hard to create such a system. But the reality is that it can be confusing. Although the underlying technology really isn’t rocket science, getting all the players on the same page is a bit of a puzzle. An article in IT Channel Planet highlighted some new research on the hurdles some companies are facing trying to implement Unified Communication. According to the report, a lot of companies still don’t have a complete grasp of UC, but can benefit from channel players with full package solutions, jockeying for a piece of what will be a $17 billion market by 2011.

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