Making sense of Unified Communications

Technology is a subject that loves an abbreviation and more than its fair share of acronyms; unified communications is no different with a lot of jargon too.

And when we work with these terms every day, it’s easy for us to forget how readily our conversations become hard to understand – let alone remain interesting!

So here is the first in a series of articles to help explain some of the most common terms you are likely to come across when researching the benefits of VoIP, or a hybrid communications solution.

A is for….

Analytics – you collect a lot of interesting data from your calls to create analytics reports, including number of calls, transfers, the average time of a call, the number of hang ups etc.

Analogue Telephone Adaptor (ATA) – is a device for connecting traditional analogue telephones, fax machines and other similar devices to a digital telephone system or a VoIP telephony network.

Anywhere Worker – a mobile worker who can do their job anywhere, on any device and typically participates in virtual teams.

Application Programming Interface (API) – at the heart of Cloud-based Unified Communications you will find an API which enables data to be seamlessly distributed to different applications on different devices in different locations. The data can then be used and updated in real time.

Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) – this is a high-speed networking standard for voice and data, typically used for private networks. It utilizes fixed-sized cells rather than the variable-length packets Ethernet utilizes, which makes it more expensive, but easier to manage bandwidth requirements.

Auto Attendant (AA) – allows callers to be automatically transferred to an extension without the intervention of an operator. They typically have a simple menu system and are customizable to act as a virtual receptionist.

Audio conference provider (ACP) – a third-party provider that supports audio conferencing on a standard public switched telephone network (PSTN) line.

Authenticated caller (AC) – someone joining a conference call over VoIP, who has been authenticated via Active Directory Domain Services.

Availability – as might be expected, this refers to the time a system is available for use and is determined by dividing the time taken for something to break, by the time it takes to fix it – the higher the number, recorded as a percentage, the better.

B is for….

Business Phone – as you might expect, a phone designed with features that meet the needs of business users, like video screens for Skype etc., typically operating in conjunction with a Unified Communications solution.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) – this is when employees bring their own mobile devices (laptops, tables and smart phones) to their workplace, expect to connect to the secure corporate network and use them to access information and applications.

C is for….

Call Admission Control (CAC) – this allows you to control the audio quality and video quality of calls over a wide-area (IP WAN) link by limiting the number of calls allowed on that link at any one time. It can prevent calls from taking place if they would have poor media quality, in Skype for Business Server Enterprise Voice.

Call Delegation – this feature allows phone calls to be delegated to someone else instead of the individual receiving the call. When a delegate answers the call, the original receiver is immediately notified the call has been answered and by which delegate.

Call Forwarding – calls are automatically sent to a user-designated number, which can be a VoIP device, a public telephone network number, or even simple voicemail.

Caller ID – allows the individual being called to see the caller’s telephone number and possibly name, before answering the phone.

Call Recording – allows you to record and store voice conversations over either public telephone networks or VoIP networks in a digital audio file format. Typically used for quality and training purposes, or for legal and compliance purposes.

Chatbot – stretching the limits of our look at unified communication, but the influence of chatbots is growing and these automated programmes can engage your customers and prospects in a conversation using natural language.

They can be the first point of call for website visitors, takeover from humans when it’s busy or extend your office hours. Chatbots can deal with many of the standard enquiries customers make and simplify the user experience.

Conference Calling – allows multiple people to join a call and contribute to the conversation or just listen in if it’s a presentation. Popular for conducting virtual meetings or connecting with distant contacts or colleagues. Now losing ground to the increasing popularity of video-conferencing and Skype for Business calls.

We had to pick and choose the terms we included as there are a huge number of obscure terms you will never need to know – that’s what experienced unified communications professionals like Qvoice are for.

If you want to know more before the next edition, please get in touch and we’ll talk you through the benefits of our telephony solutions.

Terry Faria, Telecommunications Manager – Quiss Technology plc

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