May 17, 2012, 2:23 PM — Unified communications (UC) technology has garnered a fair amount of attention, much of it due to vendors touting their UC offerings as the answer to problems workers have keeping in touch with colleagues, business partners and customers in a highly frenetic, increasingly mobile business world.
While the technology is delivering benefits to the relatively few organizations that have adopted it, experts say UC is still evolving and vendors need to do more to integrate their various products.
Exactly what UC is depends on who's providing the definition, but in general it includes real-time communication capabilities such as telephony (including IP), video conferencing, instant messaging (IM), telepresence and data sharing, along with non-real-time services such as voicemail, email, unified messaging and fax.
UC often involves multiple product components that together provide a unified user interface and experience across devices and media types. Among other capabilities, it allows a user to be reachable via the same telephone number over a variety of devices, and to receive messages on the medium of his or her choosing.
The idea behind the technology is to optimize communication and collaboration -- enabling workers to more easily reach and be reached by others, and therefore be more efficient and productive.
Best practices for UC adoption