I can hardly have a conversation with anyone these days without being asked, “Hey Kory, what exactly is ‘Unified Communications’?” As such, I will attempt to provide a definitive answer to that oh-so-ubiquitous question by copiously leveraging/paraphrasing/appropriating/borrowing/stealing from various authoritative (or authoritative-ish, at least) online resources, using my handy-dandy search engine and my remarkable knack for pulling effective keyword criteria out of my noggin.
Here, as they say, goes nothin’.
Back in 2006, Unified Communications Strategies defined UC as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.”, and I daresay a crisper, more to-the-point description is not to be found anywhere. It has big words, a jargon-y swagger, and suffers not a lick for punctuation. Kinda dry, sure, but it is an excellent start, and when you consider that it was first floated some 8 years ago that really is all it needs to be. That is, except for its strict confinement to business.
Since first defining UC way back when, Unified Communications Strategies has fine-tuned their “foundational” definition, and today their quite useful publication What UC Is and Isn’t leads off with their New And Improved take on it all: “UC integrates real-time and non-real-time communications with business processes and requirements based on presence capabilities, presenting a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types.” A more fleshed-out delineation of UC, to be sure, but still overwhelmingly business-centric.
A little less than a year ago RIC Services’ Rick McCharles offered his UC definition: “An evolving communications technology architecture which automates and unifies all forms of human and device communications in context, and with a common experience. Its purpose is to optimize business processes and enhance human communications by reducing latency, managing flows, and eliminating device and media dependencies.”
Now that is more like it! McCharles broadens the scope of Unified Communications to include the whole of humanity, yet he still manages to keep business near the center of the conversation.
Definitions of Unified Communications abound, some similar and some not so much, and like buses if you miss one soon enough another one will be right along. Included with virtually all of them, though, is a mention of what UC is NOT that consists of a list of products, technologies and services (VoIP, Instant Messaging, Presence, Call Control, Mobility, and so on). Also included, inevitably, is the admonition that UC is a solution, one that it is comprised of a mix – a unification – of some or all of those products, technologies and services.
Up at the top I said that I would attempt to definitively spell out exactly what Unified Communications is, and certainly today’s reading deserves to be considered a significant first step in that direction. (What? You thought that could happen in just 500-something words? Come on, you had to know it was never going to be THAT easy.) Now I cannot promise we will reach our intended ever-evolving destination, but I promise to do my best to make the journey an interesting one.