7 Integrated Features of Unified Communications

There are days when you think everyone in the communications world knows the definition of Unified Communications.  But then, you look at market data and polls and you have an ‘aha’ moment… when you realize there are many different opinions on what constitutes the definition of Unified Communications (UC).

Many think UC is voice with some level of messaging integrated.  Others think perhaps it is when you have a ‘unified’ mailbox so you are able to listen to email messages via a voice messaging system, or maybe even listen to voice messages through your pc.  Still other, more recent definitions take this one step further and add chat functionality – where you have the ability to text message someone – also called instant messaging or IM.

So what is the definition of Unified Communications? 

Well, generally speaking, UC is all of this and more – it’s part of the evolution of IT and telecom into one common set of features and functions – that provides a consistent “unified” user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.  Most are now of the opinion that presence awareness is one of the underlying “must have” integrated technologies.


At AT&T when we define UC we like to say:

Unified communications integrates multiple communication tools with presence, behind a single user interface that is accessible from almost any device from virtually anywhere.

Integrated features of UC include:

  1. PBX/IP Telephony features
  2. IP Phone, video phone and soft phone support for making calls over the public switched telephone network, or over the computer via IP
  3. Single Number Reach on wired and wireless devices
  4. Voicemail and Unified Messaging
  5. Presence and collaboration to quickly locate and connect with contacts
  6. Audio, video and web conferencing
  7. Mobile application

Over the next several weeks I will be highlighting a number of these UC features, providing a description of each, how they can be used and the aligned benefits.  I hope you will visit again so we can travel this UC feature road together.

So, what do you think?  What features do you see as essential for Unified Communications?  Would you add any to the list of seven given here?  We look forward to your comments and ideas.
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