Unified communications (UC) is the integration of real-time communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, telephony (including IP telephony), video conferencing, data sharing (including web connected electronic whiteboards aka IWB's or Interactive White Boards), call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax). UC is not a single product, but a set of products that provides a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types.
In its broadest sense UC can encompass all forms of communications that are exchanged via the medium of the TCP/IP network to include other forms of communications such as Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and Digital Signage Communications as they become an integrated part of the network communications deployment and may be directed as one to one communications or broadcast communications from one to many.
UC allows an individual to send a message on one medium and receive the same communication on another medium. For example, one can receive a voicemail message and choose to access it through e-mail or a cell phone. If the sender is online according to the presence information and currently accepts calls, the response can be sent immediately through text chat or video call. Otherwise, it may be sent as a non real-time message that can be accessed through a variety of media.
Unified communications definition
There are varying definitions for Unified Communications. A basic definition would be “Communications integrated to optimize business processes,” but such integration can take many forms, such as: Users simply adjusting their habits, manual integration as defined by procedures and training, integration of communications into off-the-shelf tools such as Outlook, Notes, BlackBerry, Salesforce.com, and many others, or purpose-specific integration into customized applications in specific operating departments or in vertical markets such as healthcare.
Unified communications is an evolving set of technologies that automates and unifies human and device communications in a common context and experience. It optimizes business processes and enhances human communications by reducing latency, managing flows, and eliminating device and media dependencies