VoIP is the first option that you hear about whenever you consider biding adieu to your traditional telephonic system for a more modern solution. However, before you adopt VoIP by attaining the services of any one of the top VoIP service providers out there, you should consider what currently available technologies and features would benefit from your VoIP deployment. This integration of different communication services like instant messaging, video conferencing, desktop sharing, speech recognition, call control, call routing, user presence and obviously voice over IP is a concept known as unified communication (UC). Where VoIP can be easily defined as a technology you use to place calls via the internet, unified communication is a more flexible term and its definition can be different depending on who you ask.
One of the biggest misconception in the minds of most people is that unified communication signifies a singular software, product or feature. Different vendors can provide their own customized versions of unified communication suites that offer various communication tools like the ones mentioned above. Some companies will also give you the flexibility to build your own unified communication solutions by choosing the type of communication features you want. The real power of unified communication is harnessed when it is used in tandem with VoIP which provides a reliable way to place voice calls. While reviewing VoIP service provider choices, it’s of pivotal importance to consider the type of UC models that a company provides. A UC model is often made up of front end and back end software that bridge the gap between disjoint tools present in a VoIP ecosystem. Implementing different communication techniques and assimilating them all together to create a unified solution is often a long, cumbersome process that requires extensive resources and skills. With that said, as the number of companies adopting VoIP continues to rise, so does the need for unified communication models.
VoIP Lays The Foundation For Unified Communication Models
To say that a UC model requires VoIP for its existence would not be an overstatement. We have already established that a unified communication model provides users with the ability to make video calls, share presence information or send text messages, but, without the groundwork laid down by VoIP via SIP trunks or hosted services, the company will have to start everything from scratch. You may have the means to start a video conference with your colleagues abroad, but if you are unable to place voice calls seamlessly and at any time of the day, then your routine communication will be disrupted, which will kill the whole purpose of efficient communication.
With that said, making the shift to unified communication is not an easy task; especially if you are still using the traditional PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) infrastructure from communication. The first step would require you getting rid of your analog systems, replacing your existing PBX (Private Branch Exchange) and buying new hardware that would be able to support seamless communication. Software upgrades, along with an increase in network bandwidth, will also be required. Thus, to make the UC shift, you are not only required to do a lot of preemptive thinking, but are also in need of extensive capital and technical expertise. It’s more than likely that your workforce will also need to be trained in order for everyone to get substantially acquainted with the new software.
On the other hand, if your company has been using VoIP services for some time now, it’s relatively more prepared to welcome unified communication and incorporate it in the day-to-day proceedings. Your old PSTN systems will already have been parted ways with and most of the time, you would not need to upgrade your back-end infrastructure either. Adding more communication tools to work with VoIP can often be seamless. Along with this, because you already trust the vendor’s ability to deliver voice and video calling services reliably and efficiently, you can also trust them to provide a resilient, scalable and dependable UC solution.
Advantages And Obstacles
When comparing different VoIP vendors, the first thing that you look at is the cost of the provided solution. Often, the biggest obstacle that companies face while upgrading to a unified communication model is the cost and the estimated time of upgrade completion. Most of the time, the primary reason for companies to turn down UC is because they don’t feel interested in investing a hefty sum even though they are aware of the proven advantages. However, it’s prudent to expect that more and more companies will start to proclaim UC solutions for themselves as the top vendors promise to provide more brilliant and feature-rich solutions.
The advantages of a unified communication model upgrade are quite similar in nature to the ones you get when you jump from PSTN to VoIP, but they are a lot more in quantity. VoIP makes it easy for every employee to stay in touch with the rest of their colleagues wherever they might be. UC even goes a step further by consolidating all enterprise communication and collaboration in one place. The user experience is improved considerably and companies become more equipped to plan for data backup, disaster recovery and legal discovery etc.
By using UC tools, collaboration between different teams and sections of a business that don’t even reside in the same building is improved and no person is ever kept out of the loop. With companies adopting globalization and accepting remote workers, instant communication with anyone, at any time, has become a necessity more than a luxury. Be it a customer you want to reach, a partner, a colleague or a potential client, you want your call/text/video/IM to be sent and received immediately. Unified communication models help companies in making all of this possible.
As more and more companies ditch the PSTN scene and enter the VoIP world, it’s only a matter of time till we see traditional telephony becoming obsolete. It’s also a matter of time before we see more and more companies adding additional communication services to complement their existing VoIP solutions and thus stepping into the world of unified communication.