Work and Life in the Mobile Society/Business/Unification
Modern communications has come a long way from the invention of the telephone in the 1880's to the introduction of data communications in the 1960's. Modern communications have evolved to the point where communication is automated and immediate. The immediacy or as Philip Howard of Bloor Research puts it: is the reduction of human 'latency' to improve the processes of communication (Elliot, 2008). The improvement in communication and the technologies behind these improvements falls under one concept: Unified Communication. This article will discuss the benefits and challenges of Unified Communications. But before we begin, let us define Unified Communication.
Unified Communication Defined[edit | edit source]
Unified Communications (UC) encompasses many modern methods of communications: from instant messaging, email, voice mail, to VOIP (voice-over-internet-protocol). Unified communication is the merging of multiple messages types across multiple communication points (Evans, 2004). It is also with the purpose to improve communication; to be able to reach out and receive information; to collaborate (Presence Management) with business partners, associates, clients and personal, any time, anywhere. Since consumers and business individuals can be reached 24 hours a day 7 days a week; UC is often associated with boosting productivity (Evans, 2004). There are several benefits that businesses can enjoy under Unified Communications:
Simplifying Communication Management[edit | edit source]
Regardless of the type of message received; business users can access these messages from anywhere or from one central location. Keeping inline with the definition of UC, messages can be received and sent using any method: be it email, instant messages, video conferencing, or voice mail; businesses can retrieve important information from any of these mediums. UC also provides users effective ways in differentiating personal and business messages, by providing them with means for “broadcasting messages” using classified contact lists (Evans 2004). By having the messages automatically filter by categorization, business users can benefit by accessing important and/or relevant information immediately.
Enhancing the Business Experience[edit | edit source]
“Rich Internet Applications” (RIA) with embedded streaming-video and/or streaming content provides users a vivid “experience” to businesses products or services (Doyle, 2008). Since these applications are loaded on continuously running web-serves, businesses are made available to customers 24 hours a day. In addition to these applications, other UC methods like chat-rooms, instant messaging and forums that are embedded in businesses online assets provides users a rich environment where both consumers and businesses can reach out to each other in real-time. Despite the many benefits that UC provides for both users and businesses, there are many pitfalls in the implication, usage and adoption of Unified Communications. We will now focus our attention in discussing these challenges in Unified Communications.
UC Technology Maturity[edit | edit source]
According to Dagny Evan’s (2004) article on Unified Communications, the technology and its applications are not “mature enough” for quick adoption. The problem lies within the existing IT infrastructure of the business. Since many UC technologies are proprietary based, businesses are force to adopt their standards of communication instead of blending (or customizing) it within their existing IT infrastructure (Evans 2004). In addition to implementing UC many users “find that the categorization, search, and retrieval functions are often cumbersome.” Businesses may find that implementing UC technologies; from training employees in their usage of UC applications and technologies to purchasing UC equipment may find it too corrosive in capital expenditures (Evans 2004). Since UC is co-dependent on the internet to transmit data and messages, UC may be susceptible to “IP-network attacks” such as “eavesdropping, altering conversations and fraud” (Greene, 2008).
Conclusion[edit | edit source]
Despite these setbacks in UC, UC is finding itself in many aspects of business life: from providing technical support to customers within online chat-rooms to addressing supplier concerns over an email, Unified communication provides its users a single-point of instantaneous access and availability to businesses and consumers.
References[edit | edit source]
- Doyle, J. (2008). Are You Ready For UC 2.0? Communications News , 26-27.
- Elliot, B. (2008). The Valuse of Unified Communications. Network World , 24.
- Evans, D. (2004). An Introduction to unified Communications: Challenges and Opportunities. New Information Perspectives, Volume 56 , 308-314.
- Greene, T. (2008). Beware of UC Security Threats. Network World , 36-37.