Monday, 4 July 2016

Debunking Myths on Unified Communication - Part 1

In today’s world, fierce competition has pervaded almost every market.  To remain competitive, businesses must react faster to market demands and be more responsive to customers.  To be in touch with what your customer demands, effective communication is the key.  And Unified Communication empowers effective communication.  

UC implementation has been growing rapidly.  According to the 2013 Gartner Hype Cycle report on Social Software, UC has reached the Enlightenment space and is at the cusp of the Productivity Plateau. 

But in reality, many IT managers do not have a clear idea of what UC really is and the benefits it provides.  A certain amount of mystery still shrouds UC.  In fact, a recent study in USA claimed that approximately 42% of IT managers do not completely understand the concept of UC.

This article will attempt to dispel some of these myths and clear some of the mystery surrounding Unified Communication solutions allowing you to take a fact based decision on implementing modern day converged communication solutions.

Myth 1: Unified Communication is just a fancy name for Voice over IP
In fact, the bigger myth is that Unified Communication is about voice alone.  UC, by its very definition, unifies various means of communication into one, simple to use platform.  According to IDC, UC is defined as: “The combination of presence and availability with voice, video, email, web and instant messaging, which makes it easier to communicate via the most optimal path with employees, customers, and suppliers and ultimately streamlines business processes”.
There are 4 pillars on which UC is built: 

  • Unified messaging integrates different messaging and communications media like e-mail, SMS, fax, voicemail, video messaging technologies into a single interface.  There are then accessible on a variety of devices.  Voicemail messages can be delivered directly into your email Inbox and played through any media player. 
  •  Presence in an UC environment, gathers information from various sources including Outlook and Personal calendars to provide real-time information about the availability of a user.  Presence also specifies your preferred means of communication and thereby making you easily accessible to your associates. 
  • Collaboration integrates video conferencing and screen share capabilities along with standard voice communication.
  • Mobility empowers you to be truly mobile – across devices and platforms.  With UC, you can take your calls on your landline, and divert it to your mobile during the conversation when you have to step away from your desk.  You can also convert calls to a video conference or even click your contact’s number on an email and automatically call the contact.  This seamless mobility across phones, mobiles, desktops and messaging brings true mobility to the enterprise

Myth 2: IP Phones are mandatory for UC

It is easy to associate UC with IP Phones because the UC technology is largely driven on IP networks.  However, in reality, Unified Communication integrates disparate communication systems into one platform.  There are basically 2 types of communication: 
  • Synchronous communication uses tools, like desk phones, mobility, IP telephony, presence and instant messaging.  Such communication happens in real-time.
  • Asynchronous communication uses tools, like email or Twitter and facilitates communication that takes place at a person's convenience

The goal of unified communications is to integrate synchronous and asynchronous communication on to a single platform so the end user has easy access to all communication tools using any device.

UC can help employees in a variety of contexts, including:
  • Traditional office environments, with users on computers and using desk phones or softphones and individual webcams.
  • Conference rooms equipped with speaker phones, a shared display system, and a shared camera system – either traditional conferencing systems or high-end telepresence systems 
  • Remote employees working from mobile devices including tablets and smart phones, using the audio and video native to the device. 
Therefore, UC is really a coming together of both traditional communication using PSTN and IP based communication. 

Myth 3: UC does can be implemented without connectivity to PSTN

An increasing number of businesses are opting to replace their Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTNs) for cheaper VoIP alternatives.

IP telephony was associated with performance issues when VoIP first appeared on the scene and was notorious for dropped calls and poor call quality. However, with significant strides being made in VoIP technologies, there are plenty of reasons why VoIP benefits are significantly greater than its drawback. Areas where VoIP currently is better than PSTN include advantages in scalability, cost and special feature availability.

However, In India, regulatory constraints forbid interconnection of VoIP and PSTN call routing, which means that enterprises can carry only internal calls over their corporate networks. All calls received from or sent to an external phone must be handed off to and carried by a local or long-distance service provider over the full length of the connection, with the applicable toll charges.

So does this mean that employees require two phones on their desks – one PSTN phone for external calls and another VoIP phone for internal communication? 

Unified Communication unifies these 2 communication methods onto one platform.  Hence, both PSTN and internal calls can be routed onto a single phone.  In fact, UC adds mobility and hence both internal and external calls can be made and received through a single mobile phone.  Going beyond voice communication, UC can add video conferencing and corporate application access to a soft phone or smart phone.

While PSTN is mandatory for external communication, enterprises can leverage IP telephony and Mobility by integrating all three onto one UC platform.

Myth 4: I need to replace my existing PBX to implement UC

Most enterprises believe that they have to completely change their existing communication systems to deploy an IP communications solution. This, of course, is not economically feasible for many companies, most of which have already invested heavily in TDM-based systems and do not have the budget, time, or resources to devote to a complete overhaul. 
However, Unified communications solutions allow migration at an organization’s preferred pace. By integrating with most major traditional PBX and voicemail systems as well as with mission-critical business applications, Unified Communications solutions empower customers to migrate their systems based on their business needs instead of as a result of technology limitations.

Understanding that migration to IP is more about process than technology is the first step to dispelling the myth.  Because services on the network are location independent, a company can use a building-block approach to migrate its communications to IP site by site, group by group, or application by application.  Discussing with your vendors and arriving at a clear migration path is the path to a successful deployment. 
  •  Phase 1: Migration of messaging to a unified messaging platform.  These integrate easily with existing TDM PBXs.  It allows employees to check voicemail and urgent e-mail messages using any device.  Employees also gain access to a list of voice messages and senders on their PCs, so that they can prioritize tasks and handle all messages (voice, e-mail, and fax) from their e-mail inboxes. Rich-media conferencing solutions also allows team members to simultaneously view documents, project plans, and other information using voice, video, and the Web, regardless of location.
  • Phase 2: Migrating voice communications by deploying IP Phone systems that integrate with existing PBXs.  The UC manager integrates IP telephony along with traditional TDM phones and Mobility, making communication truly seamless across various devices.  Optionally, enterprises can also integrate video telephony systems into the same platform.
Eventually, the company can retire its PBX systems altogether and replace them with UC systems at which time, all traffic, including voice, video, and data, will run over IP.

To find the right UC solution for your enterprise, it is important to choose the right implementation partner.  A partner who can work with you and design a solution that fits your company.

Arya Telecom has decades of experience in the telecommunication space.  Experience that has helped us build deep expertise in designing, deploying and maintaining communication systems that work for organizations of various sizes and complexities.  Our range of unified Communication solutions are tailored to suit any organization – both big and small.  Call us to have a brainstorming session on your communication needs.


  1. Unified communication supports the integration of various real-time communication tools over a single platform. People use this for efficient communication!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Great article- thanks for all this great info. Unified communications are one of the best ways to really get a hold on your business's communication efforts. I highly recommend adopting such a system, as it can offer so much functionality, automation, and ease of use. There is so much a cloud-based VoIP system can do for your company.