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Should unified communications and collaboration make it 'official'?

Unified communications and collaboration have been 'dating,' but now industry analysts think it's time to integrate the two and make it 'official.'

Unified communications (UC) and social collaboration have been "dating," but their friend, the enterprise, has been skeptical about whether UC and collaboration are ready to take their relationship to the next level.

Most industry analysts, however, have come to the notion that it is, in fact, time to make the relationship official. They are claiming that the need to combine the two has never been greater. But do these two business functions have enough in common to fully integrate into unified communications and collaboration (UCC)? One thing is certain: If these two do end up getting together, it would be a winning combination -- worthy of "Brangelina" power-couple status.

On one hand you have UC, a tool-based idea that focuses on the combination of hardware, software and services with an end-goal of increasing the ability to communicate across various devices, applications and locations. On the other hand you have social collaboration, a software-focused notion striving to unite groups and teams of people that are physically spread out by improving the ability to share knowledge and improve business processes. Sure, there are some key differences between these two functions, but they are both working toward the same goal: improving the ability to effectively communicate among companies and co-workers.

It sounds to me that UC and collaboration are in the type of relationship where the partners have slightly different hobbies, but they overall have the same goals -- and that's why it works.

So what's the next step? Along with UC and collaboration sending a Facebook "relationship status request" to one another, more businesses need to be willing to experiment with and embrace UCC capabilities, strategies and platforms. This is a smart move as the virtual and mobile workforces continue to grow and the "bring your own device" notion continues to develop.

Blair Pleasant, president and principal analyst of COMMfusion LLC, recommends exploring the untapped potential of the UCC market. "Enterprises have deployed some elements of UCC but not full solutions, [so] there is a large untapped market for UCC products and services in the next few years, especially in the channel," she said.

According to Formicary Collaboration Group, a provider of team-based social collaboration solutions, the road to integration involves IT departments staying current on new collaboration tools and platforms, proactively including IT in social media strategies, and working closely to improve business processes.

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