March 18, 2012
UC Is Not An Application!
By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View
Everywhere you read, you see the label "Unified Communications" (UC) associated with person-to-person telephony, all forms of text messaging, and lately, video conferencing. UC itself is not a product or a service. It is an interoperable capability for improving the efficiency and flexibility of making contact and communicating with people by integrating the various communication and business process "applications" that people use. It doesn't matter what endpoint device is used, desktop, portable laptops, tablets, or smartphones, the applications that can enable people to flexibly communicate in their modality of choice, will be part of "UC."
I see a simple solution to that source of confusion. Rather than use "UC" as a vague noun, we will be better off using it as a standard adjective, i.e., "UC-enabled," for any communication application that is used for person-to-person contacts, as well as any automated business process application that initiates contacts with a human recipient. It is analogous to the term "open" used for standardized software, that can inter-operate/integrate with other system elements.
Different communication products and services can now be described as being 'UC-enabled" to show that they inter-operate with other communication applications at the user's choice of interface (voice, screen). Alternatively, I have simply put the "Unified" label into the name of the basic service or product, e.g., the "UC Contact Center," and "Unified Conferencing." By doing so, I differentiate it from legacy telephony call centers and indicate that different forms of contact and different user interfaces can be accommodated for different groups of end users and business applications.
Telephony, messaging (email, voice mail), chat, automated business applications, conferencing, social networking, can all be labeled as "UC-enabled" when they can seamlessly inter-operate from any user endpoint device in any modality. So, for example, email will be UC-enabled if it can be delivered by text-to-speech, voicemail retrieved as email, and all messaging applications (including IM chat) if they can be escalated to a real-time voice or video connection. Even that old buzzword, "Collaboration" can better be described as "UC-enabled" when it can contextually exploit various forms of communication within the context of the information being shared, not the other way around.
So, let's all start using "UC" as an adjective/modifier rather than as a vague noun for a communication product or service. This should not conflict with the basic business objective for being UC-enabled, i.e., "Communications integrated to optimize business processes." However, each specific communications application will have to be identified and authenticated as being "UC-enabled," and the different user interface options for each business application as well.