UC – A technology, or something else?

 UC – or  should I cut out the TLA (three letter acronym – or in this case two letter) and give it it’s full title – Unified Communications, is one of those “titles” that has many different meanings and thus causes as much confusion as it does buzz.

For many in my industry, UC is absolutely a technology, and some are keen to talk the hind legs off a donkey about the technical details of what “it”can deliver, but rarely get to the real “pay back” part of the conversation.

So what have I got to say for myself – well I believe that there is significantly more to the UC conversation than just technology. I am firmly in the space that technology is rarely the only element of a successful solution, as we need to factor in the people engagement piece – whether that be employees, partners, or the paymasters themselves Customers.

UC is about bringing together various disparate channels of communications and devices into a device agnostic, location independent offering. That is to say that my ability to communicate is supported wherever I am and whatever device I happen to be using. Microsoft Lync is such a platform that enables a fairly intuitive interface for engaging with your colleagues, suppliers and customers using whatever is the most appropriate mode – Instant Messaging; Email; Telephone Call; Video Call and allows for Collaboration, through desktop sharing and discussion. All of the options are embedded in the applications that most business people are using in their daily work. Open Outlook, and you immediately have access to presence (availability and status of people in your work circles) especially if you “federate” (your presence) beyond just your internal contacts.

AND beyond the technology is the people element. Any organisation looking to embark upon a UC “journey” (that is how it should be viewed IMHO) should ensure that the company culture and people “fit” are scrutinised very carefully. The transition from existing pbx to lync voice, needs carefully planning and skilfully migrating, so that it appears seamlessly executed. This can only be achieved with a sound understanding of the process and the technologies. It is also key to be clear about your objectives and how the people in this journey are included and embraced. Just changing the tech alone will surely yield some improvements, but for the real payoff you need buy in and engagement. (If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got).

Finally consider this – today you are probably arriving at your office (home office, work office, coffee shop) and after turning on your laptop, opening Outlook. Good news – all of your communications are embedded here, and with the simple addition of a headset or similar, you have your communications hub ready to go – IM, telephony, video etc. So simple and ubiquitous, and think about the considerable savings of no longer needing your office wired pbx….worth serious consideration don’t you think?

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