Microsoft Unified communications (UC) is the integration of real-time communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, IP telephony, video conferencing, 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.
UC also refers to a trend to offer Business process integration, by simplify and integrate all forms of communications in view to optimize business processes and reduce the response time, the cost, manage flows and eliminate device and media dependencies. like the integration between UC solution and other applications like CRM.
UC allows an individual to send a message on one medium and receive on another. It should be possible to easily transfer any activity or message to another medium. For example, one can receive a voice mail message and choose to access it through email 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.
Business benefits of unified communications:
Unified communications helps businesses, small and large alike, to streamline information delivery and ensure ease of use. Microsoft Unified Communications can quickly help organizations save costs by reducing operating costs, consolidating infrastructure, and leveraging human capital more effectively. For example, a Unified Communications solution can reduce operating costs for long distance calls, cell phone charges, conferencing service fees, travel costs, and meeting expenses. Organizations can also reduce costs by consolidating communications systems for messaging, voice mail and telephony into an integrated platform based upon the two cornerstone products: Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2.
Organizations are seeing returns on Unified Communications within a single budgeting cycle, often within six months, and have the potential to save $5 million per 1,000 employees:
■Reduce Travel Expenses from 20 to 40 percent by replacing in-person meetings with immersive Web, video, and audio conferencing with Office Communications Server.
■Lower messaging costs from 50 to 80 percent by reducing storage costs and consolidating costly third-party solutions like mobility, archiving, backup, and more with Exchange.
■Reduce telephony and audio conferencing charges from 20 to 40 percent by lowering long-distance charges and audio conferencing minutes with built-in Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and unified conferencing capabilities in Office Communications Server.
■Lower real estate and facility costs from 30 to 40 percent by freeing employees from fixed desks or offices, and increasing occupancy density in buildings. With Exchange and Office Communications Server, employees can work from anywhere?with simply a laptop, a headset, and an Internet connection?and stay connected with a full suite of more secure communication tools for e-mail, integrated Presence, enterprise instant messaging, VoIP, and unified conferencing.
■Reduce the cost of communications systems from 40 to 60 percent by consolidating separate legacy voice mail with Exchange, and expensive private branch exchange (PBX), instant messaging, and audio/video/Web conferencing systems with Office Communications Server.