Industry experts have suggested that although unified communications are considered helpful for companies using the technology, vendors must adapt to integrate their products more effectively, according to a recent Computerworld report.
The news source indicated that technology providers themselves are often to blame for the many definitions of unified communications. A general meaning of UC involves real-time communication options like telephony, data sharing, telepresence, video conferencing and instant messaging. Non-real-time platforms, such as fax, messaging, email and voicemail are also included in UC.
Companies adopt unified communications for a variety of purposes, including to improve employee collaboration, increase productivity and lower operating costs.
"UC often involves multiple product components that together provide a unified user interface and experience across devices and media types," the Computerworld report said. "Among other capabilities, it allows a user to be reachable via the same telephone number over a variety of devices, and to receive messages on the medium of his or her choosing."
Unified communications, however, has not reached its full potential, especially in terms of adoption rates. The news source reported that market research and advisory firm Nemertes Research Group conducted a study of companies and found that fewer than five percent of respondents had deployed UC solutions.
Nemertes Research Group executive vice president and senior found partner, Robin Gareiss, said there are several reasons deterring some organizations from adopting unified communications. These include difficulties integrating products with UC deployments and a clear-cut case for achieving a return on their investment, Computerworld reported.
"Much of this depends on how you're defining UC," Gareiss said, according to the news provider. "Which apps are included? Are they fully integrated to both tethered and wireless devices? The biggest unplanned expenses are integration costs, training/marketing internally to users and management tools."
UC accessibility to grow thanks to the cloud
While the current adoption levels of unified communications is currently low, more companies are expected to deploy UC solutions in the future with the help of cloud computing. A recent Channel Insider report suggested that UC-as-a-Service has been gaining steam for several years as more vendors provide these systems. Although the cloud will impact UC deployments, the real issue will remain convincing businesses to upgrade from their older solutions in favor of UC.