Why It Matters That Unified Communications Aren't Actually Unified
by Joe Michalowski on

Is it time yet to acknowledge that unified communications (UC) is more of a buzzword than a real business solution?

We’ve been hearing about the promises of UC applications for upwards of 20 years—ever since messaging and real-time communication started coming together. But the real temptation of UC was that all of your communications needs—voice, video, instant messaging—would come together under one suite of applications.

Take a look at your application portfolio. How many of us actually have all communications unified under one roof?

There are so many point solutions that provide easy access for users to download within your IT environment (even if you don’t know about those downloads). Disconnected UC requires significant IT attention because the proliferation of overlapping communications solutions can quickly lead to diminished end-user experiences.

The Addition of Collaboration Is the Real Problem

Unified communications solutions operate on one big assumption—that employees will use nothing but that suite of applications to talk to one another. However, smartphones give us a seemingly endless number of different ways to communicate, whether it’s social media, consumer messaging apps, or simple legacy calls and texts.

Because employees don’t buy into UC application suites wholeheartedly, users end up with a basic understanding of which contacts to communicate with in certain channels.

The disconnect between employees and UC app suites is further complicated by the growing demand for collaboration tools to be included in unified communications.

Collaboration solutions (Slack and others like it) have emerged as must-have tools in the workplace for contact management and document sharing, as well as both asynchronous and real-time communication. At first glance, this might sound like just another set of UC solutions.

While Slack is introducing new features to compete with the likes of Cisco and Microsoft, it can’t be considered a true UC solution. There are far too many limitations on Slack integrations to fit into the competitive UC market and traditional telephony.

This means that even as Slack adds features and gains a stronger foothold with your employees, it may never become a complete replacement for a UC solution like Office 365 (with Teams collaboration) or Cisco (with Spark collaboration).

Rather than having a true, unified suite of communications applications, your network is left to support resource-intensive UC suites as well as standalone point solutions that have won the hearts of employees.

As hard as you try, employees will find ways to work around communications restrictions (much to the detriment of your IT management efforts). IT leaders need a plan in place to maintain network performance and end-user experience instead of waiting on the promises of a truly unified UC suite.

Can You See Your Network Limitations? 

Unfortunately, legacy application and network monitoring tools aren’t designed for VoIP, video, or UC visibility. Even if you’re prepared to manage the performance of a new UC suite, you probably can’t account for when employees take matters into their own hands and start downloading their favorite means of communication.

And even worse, UC monitoring problems are just a small part of greater IT stack management challenges. Modern communications solutions are supposed to keep your remote workers in touch with one another and maintain productivity—but they can’t if you aren’t equipped to make it possible.

Download our free guide, Choosing the Right Technology for Remote Location Monitoring, to see how you can overcome challenges such as those that come along with UC that isn’t unified.

Filed Under: Industry Insights, Performance Monitoring

Tags: collaboration tools , shadow IT , unified communications