Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC), is the integration of different telecommunications technologies to better communicate, both within a company, and to customers. The biggest tools for UC are your computer and a (smart or IP) phone. But that’s just the start.

First, a very simple definition of UCC: UCC ties together different ways to talk. (I use “talk” in the most general sense of the word.) UCC tools allow more talking, and less searching, waiting, and checking—in other words, time wasters. By integrating everything, you save time. UCC drives costs down, brings productivity up, lowers the “annoyance factor,” and gives your company a competitive edge.

The following are a few examples of how UCC tools save you time and effort, and let you focus your attention on your work:

You have a voice mail. Instead of picking up your phone, calling in, putting in your password and listening to the whole message, then listening to it again as you write down a phone number, you can get all that information in five seconds by getting a text on your phone that has a transcription of the voicemail.

Many hospitals, for example, are fully integrating to VoIP and UCC services. A patient has an emergency, and the attending nurse calls the doctor’s extension. The doctor’s smartphone and office phone ring simultaneously, and an alert is sent out to an entire team at once.  By the time the doctor reaches the room, the nurse has all the patient’s important records displayed on a tablet. They realize that the patient must go into the operating room, and the OR gets the patent’s information. With the press of a button, the patient’s family is also notified.

You are the head of a company with three offices in two states, and you want to have a meeting about company growth. You set up a videoconference with the managers of the other two offices. With a laptop, two HDTVs and a high-definition webcam, the three of you are able to see and hear each other just like you were in the same room. Meanwhile, all calls go directly to voice mail while your chat remains open for important messages.

You are the manager of a call center. From your computer screen, you can see who is busy talking to customers, and who is idle. Your software also keeps track of details, such as average call length, and average hold time. You have the ability to listen in silently (whisper) to calls with customers, as well as send instant messages to help your agents with customer issues. You can also record conversations with the click of a mouse. You also have the ability to “barge-in” on calls, so that you can talk to the customer and your agent without placing the customer on hold.

Unified Communications is a service, otherwise known as a business solution. Unified Communications covers the entire platform, from the phones to the software to the infrastructure itself. As consumers, you don’t have to deal with any startup infrastructure costs, because everything is happening in the cloud. As long as you have the ability to connect your computers to your internet service provider, you are capable of getting work done.   

One of the great things about UC is that it is what’s called “technologically agnostic,” which is a fancy way of saying it works on any kind of device with any operating system. A web page, for example, is technologically agnostic, so you can access it from Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or any other browser. So, if your business VoIP services provider uses a web page portal, you’ll have the same tools whether you’re in the office or at home.

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