I went to an IT seminar the other day. One of the subject presentations concerned the topic of Unified Communications, also known as UC. UC has been around five years or so. Traditionally it has referred to the process of converting Voice over IP into email, thus allowing someone to read their voice mails in Outlook. Today, UC encompasses the entire gamut of digital communications – Voice, Email, Text, IM, etc.
The presentation discussed industry trends and how those trends are forcing businesses to turn to or expand their UC operations. One of the more interesting terms mentioned throughout the morning was “Human Latency”. An example of human latency is voice mail. When a customer leaves a voice mail for you, there is a latency period in which you must be alerted of the voice mail, check your voice mail, and then return the call. As anyone knows, it can take hours if not days to get a return phone call. In the fast paced life of today, there are a number of people for which human latency is no longer an option, thus these people do not leave a voice mail. Yes, traditional voice mail is becoming antiquated. In fact, according to industry experts, there is a segment of our society who will not use the telephone at all in dealing with a business. This is forcing companies to transform their Call Centers into Contact Centers as a growing number of their customers do not use a telephone, preferring text, IM or some other type of digital format.
Another term discussed in the presentation was the idea of Presence. Twitter is an example of presence. It confirms to people what your current status is and if you are available for communication. Again, growing numbers of customers are expecting to be able to view the presence status of their assigned sales person, agent, etc. Should the person that they wish to contact not be present, the customer will simply move on to someone else or another organization that allows them instant presence and communication access.
Another trend that is spurring the demand for UC is the nomadic worker. According to statistics, less than 2% of employees actually work at their employee’s headquarters. A majority work at some type of satellite office but many are classified as Nomadic workers. These can be sales people, support staff such as IT personnel that travel to multiple locations, etc. These employees must have the ability to receive communications of all types while on the go throughout the workday no matter where they may be.
UC even plays a role for back end staff who work at a stationary location. Enterprise IM is being used by companies today to take full advantage of the knowledge base of the organization. Should an employee need an answer to a question or require information, he or she can issue the question or request to all the staff members of a certain department or the entire organization itself and receive an reply in a matter of minutes. Unified Communications if a booming industry and one with seemingly infinite short term growth.