When considering the definition of Unified Communications (UC), industry leaders typically describe it as communications being integrated in order to optimize business processes. This means that an organization is able to seamlessly integrate, or unify, its typical business processes with both real-time communications (such as instant messaging/chat, presence information, telephony/VoIP, call control, and video conferencing) and non real-time communications (such as unified messaging - integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax).

It is often assumed that UC is a single product. UC is actually made up of a set of products that provides a consistent, unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types. In its broadest sense UC can encompass all forms of communications that are exchanged via the TCP/IP network. Note: for the purpose of discussing UC as a way to replace a traditional business phone system, an analog or key system, the singular term “UC solution” is used.

It’s important to remember that any UC solution involves multiple elements within the solution.

In fact, organizations are often already using the various, independent elements of a UC solution, such as VoIP (Voice over IP) or specific features like find me/follow me. Each of these elements help contribute to the efficiency of an organization.

By combining a broader range of communications and features into a more complete UC solution and integrating it with other business processes, an organization is able to substantially increase its effectiveness – and cost savings.