Adoption of Unified Communications continues to accelerate as many businesses and organizations embraced this powerful technology as an essential tool to achieve their corporate goals . It is also evident in the market that legacy PBX systems are reaching the end of their lifecycle (even traditional PBX vendors are moving their solutions to IP Telephony) and further investment on this area should be avoided.

Enterprises leveraging Cisco Unified Communications solutions can achieve compelling benefits like:

  1. reduce Total cost of ownership (TCO)
  2. transform business and enhance productivity

Lower Total cost of ownership (TCO) comes from:

Transform business and enhance productivity:

A very important advantage of the Cisco Unified Communications solution (compared to legacy PBX systems) is that it can be easily and cost-effectively integrated with existing corporate data applications, utilising its CTI/XML capabilities. Application examples are:

We would like also to point out that each enterprise has different needs and priorities so it is crucial to have the ability to create custom applications that address very specific corporate requirements. Cisco Unified Communications solutions provide this development efficiency and, in addition, have a large network of certified technology developers that have successfully implemented custom or ready-made CTI/XML applications across all business verticals (retail, manufacturing, hospitality, education, finance, etc.). Cisco also publishes all the required developer resources (SDKs, developer guides) in order to make it easy for a customer who desires to proceed with in-house application development. Some examples of custom application development : custom CRM integrations, click to dial, callerID screen-pops from customer directories, use of IPPhones as price checkers in retail stores, use of Wifi IPPhones to display video streams or perform inventory checking (warehouse environment), use of paging application for guest control and security checks, etc. Another valuable characteristic of a Cisco Unified Communications solution is that new features and services can be added again easily and cost effectively. As a result, end users (even in remote sites) get access to new, high-quality applications sooner, increasing their productivity and improving business processes.

Examples of such features and applications are:

Videotelephony
Videotelephony (video capabilities integrated with telephony functions) offers enhanced employee communications, reduction of travel expenses and valuable time savings with mininal cost, without the need for user training (a video call can be made exactly the same way as a voice call), minimal administration efforts (same dialplan as voice). Cisco's solution offers a broad range of videoconferencing endpoints, and also the ability to integrate with existing H323 and H320 solutions.

Unified Messaging
Unified Messaging solutions offer the ability to receive voicemail in MS Outlook, Lotus Notes or IMAP client, or even through a webbrowser. Fax integration with Outlook or Lotus Notes can also be offered. Unified Messaging enhances productivity as users can access their messages quickly and regardless of their location.

Mobility services
Teleworkers, users connected to the corporate network through a VPN connection, can utilise softphone applications to keep their telephony services in the same way as at their office desk.
Mobile workers, moving frequently around the corporate campus or even across sites, can utilise extension mobility features (described previously), softphones or Wifi phones to maintain full telephony services at any time. Softphones are available for PCs, laptops, pocketsPC, PDAs and even GSM phones.
Cisco Unified Communications Applications, Cisco Mobile Connect and Mobility Manager, and Nokia Dual Mode provide integration between the GSM world and enterprise telephony services.
Cisco Mobile Connect offers the ability to extend selected calls coming to a user's deskphone to his/her GSM number (or alternate destinations if desired). The call will ring simultaneously in all destinations (deskphone, mobile, other) so the user, depending on his/her location, can use the preferred device. This greatly enhances a user's reachability through a single (deskphone) number.
The Cisco Mobility Manager offers to its users who utilise a GPRS/3G handset the ability to check presence information of their colleagues, chat with them, listen to voicemail messages, and check scheduled conferences calls. In other words, it provides the user part of his/her office desk functionality while he/she is out of the office and utilising a GPRS/3G connection.
Nokia Dual Mode offers the ability to use a Nokia GSM handset to connect to the corporate wireless network and use a softphone to place calls over the corporate telephony infrastucture. This way, enterprises do not have to maintain separate GSM and Wifi handsets, and employees can enjoy enhanced usability.

Text and Audio Paging services
Users can send audio or text messages to selected IPPhones (news, announcements, security alerts, etc.). For example, a user can enter a message using his/her webbrowser and send it to all the users of the finance department or all the users on the first floor of building A.

Cisco Unified Personal Communicator Client
The Cisco Unified Personal Communicator offers softphone, videophone, instant messaging, presence information and preferred method of contact, directory services, access to voicemail, and access to web conferencing services - all from a single application on the user's PC/laptop. Research has shown that users utilize much more videotelephony, IM and web/audio conferencing services when these services can be offered in a user-friendly way. A Personal Communicator user can start a voice conversation, escalate it to a video call or webconferencing session (to share presentations, documents, invite more participants) by a single button on their client. Integrated messaging and embedded directory access (search for a user, and make an audio call, a video call, a IM session or send an email with one click), enhances user productivity. This client is also ideal for mobile workers.

Audio/Web/Video Conferencing Services
These services can greatly enhance corporate training processes and collaboration between employees, help reduce time and process inefficiencies in globally distributed processes, and reduce travel expenses. Cisco UC applications offer options for scheduled and ad-hoc audio/web/video conferences, the ability to record a conference call and send it to the the users who could not attend through email.

IP Contact Center
Cisco Unified Contact Centers Solutions provide location flexibility (agents over the WAN, PSTN agents, distributed IVR services), enhanced redundancy (primary and secondary callcenter components can be distributed across data centers or different sites), integrated ACD and IVR capabilities (no need for integration of different systems), advanced IP IVR capabilities for voice portals (citizen or customer self service), CTI capabilities for CRM and other corporate applications integration, and the ability to easily add video, web, email channels of customer interaction.

Enhanced Security - Authentication and Encryption
The Cisco Unified Communications Solution provides the flexibility to encrypt voice media and signaling, and perform device authentication without the requirement of additional components, or solution redesign offering a secure and reliable UC environment.

Cisco's Journey into Unified Communications