Any conversation about the future of communications has to include a discussion about unified communications (UC). Surprisingly, although a growing number of companies are now experiencing the productivity and connectivity gains achievable from UC deployments, the industry itself still seems to be conflicted as to what UC actually means.

Undoubtedly, UC today features many different forms of communications—including voice, video, instant messaging—and powerful applications that extend beyond the telephone to break down communication barriers and help people connect and access the information they need as quickly and as easily as possible.

And therein lies ShoreTel’s definition of UC: brilliantly simple solutions designed to help people communicate anywhere, any time and in any way they choose.

For a UC solution to follow through on its promises of productivity gains, reduced costs and improved collaboration, it has to be simple to deploy, simple to maintain and simple to use. Introducing complexity into the network only requires more sleepness nights from overstretched IT folks, puts additional strain on already tight budgets, and increases the risk of unplanned downtime.

Complexity and clunkiness also increase the likelihood that end users won’t take advantage of the feature-rich collaboration tools, mobility features and workflow applications that hold the keys to a rapid ROI, improved customer service and productivity boosts.

At the same time, these applications and tools must be easily customized to the individual business environment—rather than the other way around. Businesses need the flexibility to respond to market shifts and challenges quickly and cost-effectively. We witnessed this recently as the economic downturn led to a huge reduction in business travel, and an increase in online conferencing.

As a result, today’s UC solutions must offer business agility through ease of interoperability and integration, and eliminate the traditional risks of locking in on proprietary systems with roadmaps to obsolescence.

Since ShoreTel was designed from the ground up for IP networks, we’ve been able to focus on an approach that optimizes the potential of IP, including newer technologies such as session initiation protocol (SIP), and delivers UC solutions that anyone can use. Not only do our simply brilliant solutions take communications to a whole new level of ubiquity, but they give businesses the freedom to innovate in which ever direction they choose.

And for the majority of cash-strapped, competitive businesses today, any other definition of UC is completely irrelevant.


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