Unified communications services are changing the way business is done. Business owners can now address all of their communication needs anytime, anywhere, and have the flexibility of doing so across a variety of devices. With the right unified communications service, users have the assurance they will be able to communicate via a variety of methods such as phone calls, text messages, emails, and real-time conferencing and collaboration from any device, including smart phones, desktop or laptop computers, tablets, and more. Unified communications services streamline communication so that everything from instant messages to conferencing done on the fly can take place wherever and whenever participants may be. In addition, because unified communications services can work across all platforms and in all formats, participants can choose to communicate in formats that suit them best, whether via email, instant messaging, text messaging, a phone call, etc. This communications flexibility is possible because of something called SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol. About SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol SIP is a signaling protocol that uses Internet telephony technology to establish sessions and seamlessly connect participants when communication is facilitated. What began as the ability to do simple telephone calls over the Internet has now expanded to include all forms of communication, including the ability to videoconference in real time, share multimedia files, etc., and so forth. This is all possible because of SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol. With SIP, communication over an IP network can take the form of a telephone call, a conferencing session in real-time, online, that utilizes multimedia, instant messaging with one or more colleagues at the same time, or webpage "click to dial" services like Skype. In addition, users can choose to communicate on any device available, and can move from one device to another if they wish. The beauty of SIP is that users can be infinitely mobile and flexible in their communications. With the right unified communications service, business owners can manage their communications as they see fit, however, whenever and wherever they wish. With so many services available (and more jumping into the mix), though, it can be difficult to choose the right one. A reliable service should have:
- A "native" SIP system
When a unified communications service establishes its system as a so-called "native" SIP, meaning that the system is not retrofitted, it is built from the ground up with the latest technology and with unified communications as the focus. To that end, it is able to manage cutting edge technologies older systems may not be able to. While older systems may be "retrofit" to try to address these challenges, it's almost inevitable that there will be problems with integration, interoperability, and feature upgrades as they become available. New systems are built from the start to handle these updates seamlessly, without worry of unnecessary service interruptions or loss of quality.
- Cloud-based unified communications
Cloud-based unified communications can give small businesses the means to inexpensively establish and deploy unified communications systems without having to invest a lot of capital upfront. They can still take full advantage of full-featured unified communications features, but won't significantly impact their bottom lines. In addition, because cloud solutions are flexible and mobile, they can be changed as needed, as businesses themselves grow and change
- The ability to bring SIP to a specific business location
Larger businesses may wish to run SIP "trunks" to their businesses as a means to make communications more reliable, secure, and efficient, while businesses utilize their own network capacity to keep costs down.
A good unified communications service will have both this capability and cloud-based options for best flexibility.