Thus, at a basic level, UCs are inextricably linked to the concept of Next Generation Network (NGN) and can be fully implemented only in next-generation networks.
Recalling UC, now most often mean exactly the software level, as the closest and the most user-friendly. From this point of view, “unified communications” can be characterized as a set of software tools that allow the user to be in constant communication with clients and colleagues at work (although, of course, no one interferes with this approach even after hours).
The main services to be implemented with the help of UC are instant messaging, electronic and voice mail, telephony (traditional, mobile, VoIP), audio/video conferences, presence indicator, teamwork tools, Web conferences, Internet access (including support for Web 2.0 ideology), contact center functions, etc.
The full-scale UC model also includes the concept of a “single telephone number”, when it is not necessary to search for it on all available telephones to contact the subscriber, but simply dial one number. Further, the intelligent system itself will determine the location of the called subscriber and forward him the call, with the least expense. That is, say, an employee is available simultaneously on a mobile and fixed phones – the system will automatically choose the most economical version of the connection.
In addition, the unified communications combine the means of online and offline interaction. If the employee is not available at the moment for any of the means of communication, then the information addressed to him will not be lost anyway – it will be stored in memory (for example, a voice mailbox) and transferred to the subscriber at the first opportunity.
The software layer of Unified Communications assumes the availability of server and client modules. The server is responsible for user interaction and application operation. Client programs are installed on all types of modern telecommunication terminals, including fixed and portable computers, communicators, mobile phones and IP telephones. At the same time, they should have a common look for all devices – an understandable and concise user interface. The user must be able to access the server at anytime, anywhere and over any data network (Ethernet, PSTN, GSM, WiMAX, Wi-Fi, 3G, etc.).
Today, many companies focus on the software component of UC, assuming a priori that the customer already has an appropriate data transmission network. However, in practice, it turns out that some of the functions inherent in the software cannot be implemented on client equipment. Therefore, an important role is also played here by the solution integrator, which must intelligently select software products based on the capabilities of the existing infrastructure.
We can talk about Unified Communications from the point of view of a logical structure – not from the potential of specific complex products, but from the immediate needs of the customer. In this case, the key aspect is the functionality without reference to specific developments. A typical example is the combination of free telecommunications services, such as Skype, ICQ, GoogleTalk, Gmail, various social networks and web applications within a single user terminal. The issues of fault tolerance and security of such systems will be left for subsequent publications, but in some cases, the client combines paid and free telecommunication solutions in its UC system.
In addition to greatly simplifying the methods of interaction between employees and customers, the company that implemented some of the elements of Unified Communications can count on a significant economic effect. In addition to the saved working time, which, according to Western experts, the employee will certainly use for the benefit of the organization (although most likely, it will be spent for personal purposes), the ability to get anyone and anywhere, “business innovation” and other amorphous advantages, the owner UC receives and quite tangible dividends.
For example, you can save money on video and audio conferencing (including for training) instead of traveling. Of course, it is not always possible to resolve issues through VCS, but in most cases, this is a quite adequate substitute for physical presence. At the same time, savings are also achieved due to the fact that remote specialized conferences will not require a specialized expensive infrastructure – everything can be arranged within Unified Communications (although, of course, in some cases, a specialized system is irreplaceable).
Another advantage of UC is the centralization of user applications on the server, which reduces the cost of maintenance and support of the infrastructure, including through a unified licensing and upgrade policy. Reduce costs will also help remote and temporary employees; Such a person should simply be provided with appropriate software so that he can work in a team, regardless of his location. Therefore, for him, there is no need to provide a stationary workplace in the office. A company that uses this functionality can consist of thousands of professionals working all over the world, controlled by just one small office.
It will also be appropriate to use the virtual contact center function, which allows you to attract the right employees to the processing of calls only as needed. Thus, in each case, only the required number of experts will be connected to the solution of the problem and only for the required time. It should be noted that these specialists can be anywhere, even in different parts of the globe.
A significant part of the company’s expenses, as a rule, falls in various types of telephone communications. “United communications” can reduce it in several directions at once – let’s say, through computer and IP-telephony, the service of instant text messages.
“Unified Communications” Can Reduce Costs Of The Company On Communication In Several Directions
Still, it is possible to save on a mobile communication, in particular, using two-standard phones GSM / Wi-Fi. Being inside the office, the subscriber automatically connects to the corporate radio network of Wi-Fi, using it for calls, instead of communicating through the GSM network. Together, these and some other functions of UC systems allow Western companies (by their own information) to cut costs for all kinds of telecommunications more than twice. For the countries of the post-Soviet space, objective statistics, unfortunately, are not yet available.
However, one should not forget about the advantages that the enterprise receives indirectly, in the conditions of tough market competition, success is often determined by them. Unified communications features provide the unification of disparate corporate information and structuring access to it, organizing and supporting convenient collaborative tools, continuity of business processes, increasing customer loyalty, etc. In addition, UCS increase the flexibility of the corporate communications system, since ideally they are based on open and widespread international standards, such as IP, SIP, XML.
As a result, the company, to a greater or lesser extent, obtains independence from proprietary telecommunications protocols and technologies (often incompatible with each other) and goes away from the dictatorship of producers.