There are many important Unified Communications (UC) applications and tools available today and, yet, the terminology can often be misunderstood given the many capabilities and delivery models of UC.

Unified Communications consolidates phone, email, chat, video, conferencing and collaboration, enabling communication on any device regardless of platform. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a delivery model in which a variety of communication and collaboration applications and services are outsourced to a third-party provider and delivered over an IP network, usually the public Internet.

Here’s a list of the most commonly used terms and their definitions as they relate to UC and UCaaS:

IP PBX (Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange)

Unified Communications includes a phone system that integrates with external components — sharing presence information and voicemail. The phone can be accessible using your computer. Computer-based call control enables people to answer and transfer calls, initiate dials and adjust phone features from their desktop, laptop or mobile device.

Email

The second most used and critical components of any UC solution is email because it is where most digital workers keep schedules and contacts.

Unified Messaging (UM)

Messaging refers to the ability of the PBX to deliver voicemail and faxes as email to eliminate the need to check a second (or third) location for messages.

Instant Messaging (IM)

Also referred to as chat, IM is a type of communications that doesn’t require a phone conversation, IM was also the first real presence application (to see if someone was available).

Presence

Typically presence and IM are one in the same, but this term refers to a message that someone leaves to describe what communication method they prefer as well as when they are most available to be contacted.

Desktop Video

Simple video communication using embedded or attached webcams. The technology is moving fast, and it is an important consideration in the UC landscape, especially since face-to-face is one of the best ways to communicate.

Collaboration

Collaboration includes conferencing services such as voice or audio, web and video. Typically, this is team collaboration or project-based collaboration which is different from more traditional conferencing tools

It also describes the ability to pull multiple parties together into a workspace to share documents, presentations, video, etc.

Mobility

Mobility generally enables people to use a mobile phone to perform many of the functions listed above. But, via UC, mobile can also refer to the ability to answer calls that were intended for an office line from any location – meaning that UC systems can easily function on your phone.

Application integration

Integration reduces double work and ensures data still reaches multiple systems, like customer relationship management (CRM) to enterprise resource planning (ERP) and accounting systems.

To learn more about Unified Communications, please download our new Unified Communications 101 eBook, today.