Expo 2020 - Dubai, UAE
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Unified communications has become a transformative and ubiquitous line of technologies in a relatively short period of time, and businesses have already started to reach toward more prolific use of these tools in efforts to reduce expenditures and stimulate collaboration that leads to innovation. While the technologies and services contained therein are becoming more functional right out of the box, there is still more work to be done to ensure that the firm has reached, and continues to sustain, optimal performances in these regards. Without a strong and targeted strategy in place that is regularly refined to maintain relevance, the chances of striking the greatest chord with UC investments will be inherently lower. Sure, the provisioning process will always be critical, but the decisions contained therein should be guided and informed by policies, planning and more long before the first purchase is made, and it is up to leaders and managers to ensure that they are positioning their companies for the greatest level of success in this regard. Looking forward to 2015, a wealth of trends and transformations are expected to impact the ways in which companies communicate, as well as how UC tools can and ought to be used for a range of purposes. By keeping an eye on the future and trying to proactively adjust strategies to maintain agility and optimal use of UC technologies, firms can ensure that they have the leanest, most powerful line of communications solutions in place possible.

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Thanks in part to unified communications solutions like Microsoft Lync being used more by companies, there are more employees are now telecommuting than ever before. Despite Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's recent ban on working from home (or from coffee shops or anywhere else really), employees can still telecommute productively – when it is done correctly, according to PC World's Christopher Null. The first thing people and companies both need to do is make sure telecommuting can work as well as possible.

"You may not think twice about the Internet connection at your office – but when you're outfitting your home, bandwidth is a crucial consideration," he wrote. "Check with your internet service provider about upgrades, particularly faster data service. Comcast, for example, offers 50 mbps and even 100 mbps business-level service plans, both of them considerably faster than the sub-10-mbps speeds that most consumers receive with their plans. Otherwise, investigate different ISPs."

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For businesses looking to bring in a great unified communications solution, Microsoft Lync can be a great way to go. Kevin Kieller, a professional in the industry, said on NoJitter.com that businesses have to understand that Lync is a complete UC solution and more than simply something to replace a voice system.

"Yes, Lync can, does, and for many organizations should, replace their existing voice system," he wrote. "However, if you are only looking for a voice system, Lync may not be the best choice. Lync is a UC solution and unified communications is about much more than just voice. While Lync is not only a voice system, I think it is important to emphasize that if you choose, you can deploy IP phones with Lync, just like you can with any other 'voice only' solution."

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Unified communications' impact on the enterprise is difficult to calculate precisely, but there's no question that the technology's influence is tremendous. Firms that deploy UC platforms immediately become more flexible, efficient, effective and employee-friendly. Whether the company sees a positive return on its investment within a month, three months or even a year, there's little doubt that the deployment will eventually pay off, in one way or another.

One factor that could potentially compromise UC ROI and effectiveness, though, is security. UC security is frequently underappreciated, yet this is an essential component of any successful UC strategy. Firms need to embrace both the policies and tools necessary to ensure their UC resources remain fully protected at all times.

Threatening atmosphere
By their nature, UC platforms unite disparate aspects of a company's IT infrastructure into a single, coherent system. While this has obvious benefits, it also means that there are more potential access points for cyberattackers to target.

Making matters worse is the simple fact that cybercriminals are becoming both more numerous and more sophisticated in their efforts. Companies in every industry now collect and generate a tremendous amount of information, all of which may hold value for opportunistic hackers, as they can then either sell this data or use it to commit identity theft or fraud.Read More...

Any way you slice it, VoIP solutions are on the rise. The lure of decreased costs and increased flexibility has led to a marked uptick in the number of businesses that are abandoning on-premise PBX systems for hosted PBX and UC (unified communications) systems. Cloud-based business solutions are the way of the future, spurred by innovations in technology and accessibility that make the switch from on-premises systems to UC easier and more affordable than ever.

A recent market report by Infonetics noted that hosted service seats grew globally by 20 percent in 2013, and are predicted to have gained another 13 percent by the end of 2014. In contrast, growth in traditional PBX systems has remained stagnant for the last several years, and is showing signs of gradual decline. The economic and technological drivers behind this trend deserve attention.

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