For many years, AV professionals have been debating about what is included in a unified communications solution—is it voice and video? Does it include messaging or presence? What about real time web collaboration? And how is social media incorporated, if at all?

Not so long ago, AV and IT operated as distinctly separate disciplines. Today, their worlds have collided. Large tech initiatives require both the disciplines to work together to achieve overall business goals. With unified communications becoming a popular choice, the AV/IT convergence has not only received a boost, but there’s a growing shift towards “commoditization”—price becoming the key factor—in the AV marketplace. For instance, today, it’s absolutely possible to buy a complete AV system in pre-packaged form from a single vendor.

While this “ready-to-use” concept charms users with ease-of-use and low-maintenance, it turns the AV industry’s approach on its head, since AV integration has long been about customized solutions based on the unique requirements of each client. The question becomes: how can AV integrators help UC deliver on its promises?  

While adoption of UC has been soaring since last year, it still suffers from a major identity crisis. According to a recent article by Nemertes Research, defining UC and its use cases too narrowly or broadly is often one of the pitfalls in UCC planning and execution.  “IT leaders often fail to include specific capabilities (i.e., document sharing, virtual whiteboards, mobile enablement, etc.) or ancillary, but related, areas (most notable, contact center). On the other hand, they sometimes include everything under the sun, with no limitations, and the project becomes too unwieldy.”

Today’s users are working on multiple devices, which means they need features like multi-device management and single number reach to truly benefit from UC. As businesses add more and more tools to their communication repertoire, we should consider whether or not a single unified communication tool is still the answer. In many cases, users have more features in their UC systems than they need or want. Creating a streamlined, effective, and useful all-in-one tool has been one of the biggest challenges in the domain of UC, especially as the work landscape continues to evolve.

For instance, as an increasing number of students move away from real-time voice communication, should voice still be at the center of unified communication?  Will the growing influence of mobility be a bigger push toward video or perhaps toward messaging and presence?

Also, in many UC solutions data sharing is an afterthought, but today we need powerful data sharing platforms as more and more communication depends on the real-time sharing of on-screen information. With the rise of Internet of Things, improved data security in the cloud needs to become a priority. These are some of the questions and issues UC manufacturers and vendors need seriously consider in order for UC to provide real benefits to users.

Though the UC industry has recovered from its long-term dormancy, I think it still has a long way to go in order to become the standard communication practice in organizations. As noted above, the field of UC is still riddled with complexities and doubts that must be addressed before we can consider UC seeing unequivocal success in the mainstream.  We need to close the gap between what unified communications will look like in the future and what it should look like today.

Unified communication as a solution has been (and is still being) subjected to a lot of skepticism despite its huge market growth figures. What we often tend to forget is that UC was meant to unify communications of people, not technology. If we are joining a group of antiquated technologies, then perhaps we aren’t unifying communication at all? I believe the true involvement of AV in UC deployments can weed out many of these problems. Because the goal of AV is focused on creating great user experiences that truly connect people, it can pave the way for a well-integrated UC environment—something we’ve been long waiting for.

Learn more about how the right unified communications solutions can help you collaborate more effectively.