Is combing through a list of phone numbers to see whos available with the information you need a thing of the past? Apparently so, according to a new report on unified communications from research firm Nemertes.
"With a unified communications environment, [users are] able to see presence status, instant-message a physician to see if they're able to take a call, and if they are able to speak to the patient, conference them into the call," Irwin Lazar, an analyst at research firm Nemertes, told Enterprise VoIPPlanet.com.
The company reports that 84 percent of companies are now deploying or planning to integrate into their business some form of unified communications (UC), which is the combination of voice, voicemail, e-mail, text messaging, presenceand, often, other communications appsinto one user interface.
"In the unified communications environment, if a financial adviser is on the phone with the customer, and the customer's question is about insurance policy, the financial adviser looks up on screen to see which adviser has expertise in that area, pings them via instant messenger, asks them to join the call," Lazar explains. "They say yes, and they join the call right then and there."
According to Lazar, translating the capabilities of UC into practical situations such as these is where the real value of the technology lies.
Lazar says many UC solutions now incorporate video as well as voice into a single user interface. He says companies are increasingly adopting a unified communications environment in which you have a single buddy list to initiate an audio or video chat, whether youre on the desktop or a mobile device.
As companies' budgets tighten, Lazar pointed out, they can cut back on travel, using real-time unified communications applications as a substitute for face-to-face meetings.
The goal of UC, he says, is for businesses to be able to solve work problems faster. By getting in touch with people faster and reducing "human latency," there's no need to wait to track down professional services, such as a doctor, accountant, or insurance agent.