Join the Revolution
Posted on 12/05/2011
Unified Communications is one of the latest hot topics in the ever-evolving world of telecoms. But like any emerging technology there’s still plenty of confusion around. Ian Brindle from Nimans looks at the current state-of-play.
“Unified Comms or UC as it is often known has been one of the industry’s biggest talking points for a while and momentum is continuing to grow,” says Ian. “Today we have started to enter a brave new world. There’s little doubt of the positive impact UC is already having in businesses up and down the country. For us pretty much everyone has accepted that UC is going to revolutionise the way we communicate in the future - in the office, on the move and at home.
“This UC vision is shared by many key players, particularly lots of manufacturers who are investing millions of pounds in research and development. Already many big names are positioning new technology from feature-packed systems to headsets, conferencing units and handsets. It’s not a five minute wonder. UC is here to stay and is gaining momentum on an almost daily basis. Some of the latest headsets for example now come with innovative presence detection sensors that automatically know when a user has stopped wearing the device - as their presence indicator goes from green to red.
“So what’s UC all about? UC is described as the integration of real-time communication services such as instant messaging, presence and video conferencing with other traditional services such as e-mails and voicemails. It’s not a single product but a set of products that provide a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types.
“UC means different things to different people and from a reseller’s perspective it can be confusing when discussing this technology with customers. But one thing we should all agree on is how UC can make businesses performer smarter and more efficiently, ensuring people can work much more closely wherever they are, based on instant and integrated communication - people not just talking on their phones and mobiles but also via computers.
“UC is based on simpler and smarter communication. The way people work has changed dramatically over the last 15 years or so - they are no longer tied to their desks from 9am until 5.30pm, there’s far more flexibility in terms of where they work from and when they work.
“Technology has developed rapidly, particularly in the mobile world where the latest smart phones perform a host of tasks, much more than traditional phone calls and texts. However the existence of multiple communication tools and channels can be a burden. There’s the danger that information can become disconnected as business professionals move from one place to another, juggling competing devices that cause ergonomic and efficiency issues. This is where UC comes in - to streamline working practices and processes.
“UC can help people perform better and manage their working lives with one number, one voicemail and one interface no matter where they are - bringing together the basic building blocks of smartphones, wireless laptops, software and connectivity.
“For us it’s about delivering greater and more convenient choice - communication by landline, mobile and PC. The biggest impact will be to provide the ability to talk over e-mail. Significant numbers of people will soon be able to do so - and once the momentum starts to build, everything will snowball.
“Over the last 25 years to be fair there have been a few false dawns and some slow burners but we’ve never been more excited by the potential that UC creates. 2011 is going to be a big year.
“Here at Nimans we are busy working with manufacturers across many sectors so that resellers can harness the huge potential that exists. We are determined to be a driving force in this arena both from a system and end point perspective to ensure our customers can take advantage of the many opportunities that will undoubtedly be created over the next few years. Our staff share my passion and undertake on-going training to ensure they are equipped to share their evolving knowledge as the market moves forward and new products introduced. We’re working closely in collaboration with key suppliers to drive the market further forward, based on our renowned logistics expertise and general industry know-how. We are investing in UC ourselves across the business, so that we can offer hands-on professional expert advice.”
Microsoft Lync is an important component to be aware of as this is often the driving force used to deliver UC, according to Ian who emphasised: “Another key area for anyone investing in UC is to make sure that end points have the quality to perform at the highest level – and this is where forward thinking office resellers can steal a march on their rivals. Ultimately the quality of a conversation relies on a headset, handset or speaker device. The whole infrastructure is only as strong as the weakest link so it’s important that resellers get this message across – and capitalise on the wealth of growing sales opportunities being created.
“The latest devices have the ability to maximise performance and enhance conversations, generating a more satisfying user experience. Using the wrong device will undermine the whole platform, leading to complaints and a lack of confidence and trust.
“Today, UC continues to gather pace but progress is being hampered by gaps in knowledge and understanding. This is something we are determined to address. In its simplest form UC enables real time communications, facilitating collaboration and faster decision-making. Providing seamless connectivity brings people and businesses closer together. There’s a revolution around the corner. Clearly there’s much work to be done. We’re not there yet but the pieces of the jigsaw are slotting together. UC trends have started to filter down from the high end enterprise space and are becoming too big to ignore. It’s set to change everything. The time is now to get involved. Don’t get left behind. Embrace UC. It’s the future of the industry.”