written by: George Garza•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 10/6/2010
Unified communication uses technology to unify voice, data, and business applications. It works by removing barriers so that it is possible to access and utilize communications by all employees. It works on a variety of devices without regard to location. This article looks at pros and cons.
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Pros - Cost Savings
When considering unified communications advantages and disadvantages, it’s obvious that one of the benefits is the cost savings achieved through the consolidation of equipment and services. Instead of managing separate networks for data and video as well as voice, unified communications architectures allow for the central management of networks. This can provide improved telecommunication opportunities; unified telecommunications offers businesses a way to use telecoms other than as cost centers. In a troubled economy, like the one we have now, unified communications can increase information sharing, lower costs, and improve revenue opportunities, which could offer a competitive advantage to a business.
Another "pro" in favor of unified communication comes with the ability to enable all employees, both with smart phones and those working at remote distributed locations, with complete business telephony capabilities. With a common user interface, without regard for the device or phonetype in use, it provides the opportunity for increased productivity and employee satisfaction with the systems provided.
Many vendors provide different unified communication solutions, but the interoperability between them can be a major issue since no one vendor can provide all the functionalities and capabilities that fall under the unified communications heading. This means that solutions have to become software based. So the interoperability problems caused by hardware have to be overcome. However, that still has to occur.
A solution that is hardware independent is critical for a business. A unified communications solution, in order to become a key component of the organization's operation, cannot easily change hardware models or provide additional processing power or memory when required. It is apparent that solutions that suggest a move toward a single vendor architecture misunderstand what are the primary advantages of unified communications. They are the flexibility and long-term financial benefits obtained by having the ability to modify the network as time and opportunity required by the business. However, in the meantime, maintaining a set of high quality business applications for all users is important.
We gain many benefits from unified communications. Advantages and disadvantages must both be considered, however. A unified communication solution can be an excellent technical service for a business. It brings cost savings as well as a common interface for employees to use. This makes it more productive as employees do not have to spend time learning how to work with different interfaces regardless of the device they use. However, this in turn brings to mind some of the problems associated with this unified communications approach. It appears that ultimately the solution must be software based and rely less on hardware proprietary features. As telecommunications become more sophisticated, the interfaces and the interactions must be available to all users regardless of what types of devices are available.
What this says is that as the communication requirements become more diverse, the hardware must support those technical software elements. Business enterprises will not be able to makehardware and software changes or upgrades at the same time; it will be one or the other. Realistically speaking, it will be a solid hardware with a software platform that is pliable.