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13Apr 2012
Apr 13, 2012

Unified Communications

The world has changed a lot in the last few decades, more so then ever with the introduction of social media. People have readily adopted the new means of communication and this has many people worried about the future of human interaction. No longer are we required to hold a real conversation or t have to physically meet our friends and family, but a simple message or comment left on an uploaded picture is enough to suffice.  Its worrying if social networking is allowed to take off in its extreme and if we cut ourselves off completely, but given enough control and moderation we can rest easy knowing that the future of social networking looks very promising. So promising that even the business world is going at it full swing; social networks  like LinkedIn and service providers like groupMe are all trying to tap into what was just recently an untapped market.

The addition of these services and networks is a great benefit to many businesses worldwide because they help achieve what is known as unified communications. Companies can create their own networks within these networks and have all their employees communicate and share information in any of several ways. Just as you would use your personal Facebook account to network and communicate with friends, businesses want to create a similar environment that can be used within the workforce- a single tool that can manage all forms of communication, wether it be instant messaging, or video conferencing. Before the onslaught of social networking services there were many companies that offered these “unified solutions”- and many that still do- but companies had to operate and manage the systems on their own. Today many businesses, regardless of their size or nature, can implement unified communications using tools that already exist and which are virtually free.

For the larger enterprises these free solutions come no where near to meeting their demands and specifications. These companies need to be assured their internal communications are secure and there data is safe across their communications platform. This is where companies like Cisco come in to play. Cisco offers a variety of different services and suite of products designed to unify communications both internally and between the business and clients. Cisco ‘Collaborative applications’ are enterprise focused social networks deployed across a company network. Services like Cisco WebEx Meetings allow the use of voice, video, and web conferencing designed specifically for collaboration and sharing; mimicking a virtual meeting environment. Cisco Jabber is an instant messaging platform that is already widely adopted across a plethora of IM applications and programs. Using Jabber this IM platform is easily accessed from your PC and Mac, to your iPhone or android tablet. WebEx social is Cisco’s direct approach at at creating the enterprise social network. It allows users to create content and share real-time communications, it also enables employees anywhere around the world to collaborate with other employees and quickly find people and resources they need to get work done- think “Facebook” private to your company or organization. A businesses need to communicate effectively is not only needed internally, but should reach out to the customers as well. Again, Cisco has designed specific products to help businesses with contact centers, enterprise reporting, outbound options, support tools, and unified web interaction managers.

If your company isn’t as large or you are not willing to go into full scale adoption of social features and unified communications for your work environment, there are many tools and service that are offered for free, or act as  ‘free-mium’ services. GroupMe was mentioned in this article and is one of the most popular IM messaging applications, available across many platforms for businesses. The service allows you to securely communicate with fellow employees and message in both text and multimedia ( pic and video) formats.  And the list doesn’t stop there as new services and products continue to pop up all the time. If your business needs help unifying its communications, there most definitely is a tool out there that can help you.

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