Unified Communications (UC), more than a buzz word, has become such a loose term that everyone uses it without thinking twice when referring to any sort of enterprise voice and video services.
But what is the true meaning of UC and, more importantly, what are the implications to achieve true UC? Conversations focus so much on the technology that participants tend to lose track of what is the ultimate goal. The goal is to simplify the way enterprises communicate through different channels and to not add additional complexity.
The focus should be in putting the user experience first and then focus on the required technology to achieve it. Seems simple, right? Unfortunately, many times this workflow is reversed. The discussion about the best video resolution, voice quality, voicemail, and other features creates a “tunnel vision” effect on the technology and neglects that the end user would much rather prefer to be able to setup a call or conference in 2 clicks, than seeing the participants in full HD or 4K resolution. Don’t get me wrong, technology and features are important but the ease to use them without the need for an engineering degree should always take priority.
So how to establish a balance? The answer is simple: listen to the users, don’t dive into coding right away. Don’t assume that just because you combined a PBX, a webcam, and a teleconference system in a software, the user will naturally know how to use it. Build it in a way that even a user that has almost no experience with a PBX or a conference system will intuitively figure out how to use the application. If we go back to the first iPhone, the UI and UX were already so intuitive that you didn’t need to read a manual to use it. Users had no previous experience with smartphones.
Unify the experience by unifying the applications. UC requires multiple pieces which need to be put together as a solution. The user should be able to get all he/she wants from a single place and not wander through endless configuration pages and dashboards. Management of the application should follow the same concept. CSP and enterprise alike are searching for ways to reduce operational costs and simplifying the management of their applications. Forcing them to go over never-ending complex options, reports, and alarms will not achieve that.
Maintaining the true purpose of the UC when creating an application is indeed a hard task. The secret is not to get lost with the multitude of options the technology offers and, above all, listen closely to your users whether they are a CSP, an IT manager or the end user.