When deployed intelligently, unified communications (UC) can make a significant difference in productivity and customer satisfaction. By integrating all communication tools under one umbrella, UC can remove much of the latency created by human delay, improving customer service as well as collaboration.
However, achieving those benefits requires more than just technology. The success or failure of a UC initiative depends as much on the processes surrounding the technology as it does on the technology itself.
“Much of the value of unified communications comes from the company evaluating processes and figuring out where the communication lags exist,” says Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. “After they do that, they will better understand whether to build the tools directly into the application or augment processes with the tools, and they will know how to train and promote them to employees.”
As the technology continues to mature, Kerravala says companies will gain even more benefit from unified communications. While voice, presence, chat, unified messaging plus audio and web conferencing are the basic building blocks of a UC system today, other functions are maturing rapidly.
One area of rapid growth is social media. Kerravala says the possibilities are vast, both in terms of collaboration and presence.
“If I was to tweet or post on Facebook that I was headed to lunch, UC solutions should be able to recognize that screen and route all calls to my mobile phone and click my presence status to unavailable,” he says. “There is no reason why that can’t be done today; it just needs to be integrated.”
Another area where UC systems are still maturing is video. Kerravala says video is too difficult to use today, and it won’t take off until it’s better integrated and easier to use.
That will happen over time, he says, with more interoperable video, and as companies begin to understand how to better insert video into business processes. For example, in addition to the click-to-call capabilities available today, click-to-video will also be available.