What is Unified Communications? (UC)

Updated: May 13th, 2024

How can Businesses Benefit from Unified Communications Technology?

Businesses with multiple locations – both nationally and internationally – can struggle to maintain effective communications across employees, departments, branches and countries, leading to ineffective business processes and, ultimately, losses in productivity and profits. With businesses utilising several communication channels daily, ensuring that conversations are streamlined is important for efficient collaboration and to avoid confusion. 

In the era of cloud computing and communications, unified communications (UC) has emerged as a solution to this problem – allowing growing organisations to uphold consistent communication and collaboration that enables employees to best utilise their time and energy for optimum productivity. In this article, we will define unified communications and expand on the many benefits businesses can expect once the technology has been implemented.

Unified Communications Explained

Unified communications is an umbrella term for a cloud-based platform that encompasses all essential methods of communication and collaboration that businesses need to remain productive,  including voice, text, audio, email, video, instant messaging and file sharing. While the wider benefits of unified communications are vast, many businesses onboard the technology to cut ineffective communication processes, improve customer experiences, boost productivity and increase profits.

Unified communications solutions and collaboration platforms can also be integrated with a business’s existing systems, if desired, making them an excellent choice for businesses that wish to build on their existing productivity, CRM tools and platforms.

The Key Advantages of Unified Communications


What is Unified Communications? (UC)

According to a study featured in Harvard Business Review, employees toggle between different platforms approximately 1200 times per day on average, equating to approximately four hours per working week. Those lost four hours could have been better spent working on important tasks to drive the business forward and, when accepted on a wider scale, represent potentially huge losses for businesses everywhere. For example, two workers may be on an important phone call and need to switch to a video conference to share information visually. If the business’s phone and video communications are housed separately – such as, via standard phone lines and Skype – an employee will need to end the voice call, log into Skype, set up a video conference, invite the other member of the team and wait for them to accept the invite, before the two can finally compare work visually. This process wastes precious time which, if happening regularly, will add up to a substantial amount of time lost over a year.

However, a unified communications solution offers a solution to this issue. Rather than ending the original call, the employees can simply migrate over to a video conference call within the same platform to share information instantly. This removes unnecessary toggle time and contributes to a rise in employee productivity and effective communication.


In order to meet the varied needs of workers, businesses can find themselves paying for multiple communication and collaboration tools and platforms, leading to overspending and difficulties juggling multiple subscriptions. For instance, a business may be spending a specific amount per month on video conferencing software, while another platform they’re subscribed to offers a similar product as part of its package, resulting in unnecessary payments. However, unified communications platforms remove the risk of overlapping services and unnecessary payments by housing multiple communication tools within the same platform. This means businesses need only pay a singular subscription payment every month, instead of multiple, which means they don’t have to pay for services that are not using. 

In addition, unified communications platforms offer excellent value for money compared with paying for numerous methods of communication separately. To find out more about the costs involved in unified communications and how much money your business could save,  speak to one of our specialists.

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Simple File Sharing

File sharing is an important component of modern digital businesses. Everything from simple Word documents to large video files need to be shared promptly and safely to keep business operations moving. However, it can become a struggle for businesses that need to share large amounts of files, daily, if there is no singular platform in which to share said files. 

If an employee needs to share an important, time-sensitive document with a colleague and chooses to send it via an external file transfer platform, this could cost the company time if the employee receiving the document is expecting to receive it on another platform and wastes time waiting for it to arrive. Or, they may lose track of the file entirely through an unfortunate technical error with the external transfer platform.

With unified communications, employees can create, upload and share important documents with colleagues using the same collaboration tools within the UC platform, quickly and easily. This removes the chance of any confusion over which platform the file is expected to arrive on, saving time and eliminating the possibility of lost files.

Effectiveness with Remote Workers

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many sectors and businesses across the world have moved – either in part or entirely – over to a remote way of working. With 44% of people in the UK working from home at some point, according to the ONS, and with a large proportion of workers preferring a hybrid way of working, businesses that embrace remote working need to ensure employees working from both office and remote locations can effectively communicate with their customers and each other at all times.

Working with separate communication platforms can prove troublesome for remote workers as they are constantly shifting between applications and may find it hard to communicate effectively with other remote workers, their office-based colleagues and customers. They may also struggle to be kept up to date with progress made with certain projects due to being in a different location from other team members, which can lead to both confusion and a feeling of exclusion on the part of the remote worker.

As a unified communications solution houses everything under a single platform, office workers and remote workers can collaborate effectively and work on projects together in real-time while having a clear, up-to-date view of the project, as well as any changes made, despite the distance between them.

Improved Employee Morale

The need to constantly move between various communications platforms can be a tiresome and draining task for some employees, especially if the communications technology in question is dated and not as fast, smooth or efficient as more modern alternatives. Dissatisfaction with technology that needs to be used on a daily basis is a key driver in many employees disliking their position or wishing to leave it entirely. 36% of respondents to a survey by digital employee experience experts Lakeside said they had considered leaving their role due to dissatisfactory technology.

As unified communications platforms remove the need to switch between applications constantly, they stand as an effective way to boost employee morale while also contributing to greater productivity rates and a more enjoyable user experience. Furthermore, because the platform is cloud-based and the applications within the platform can be managed and updated externally, if desired (more on that in a moment) these applications can be updated to their latest versions, whenever necessary, ensuring smooth-running applications and communications.

Integration with Existing Systems

Despite the fact that unified communications systems, more often than not, prove to be a vast improvement over existing communications systems, many businesses still choose to retain their existing systems when investigating new methods of business communication. This happens for several reasons, with one of the most notable being the familiarity held for the systems by existing employees. The belief is that changing platforms on such a large scale would prove to be such a culture shock that business productivity would be impacted negatively.

According to an article by Colin Bryce, published in the business-centred online publication PM Today:

“I have found an extraordinary level of technological conservatism among UK businesses. In general, owners and managers are incredibly fearful of using anything other than what they already have in place.”

This is why many businesses choose to integrate their existing, compatible applications, platforms and tools within their UC solution to retain familiarity and avoid time being spent on learning how to use a large number of new solutions..

Enhanced Scalability

Businesses that are growing and regularly onboarding new staff need to make sure their communications systems will be able to handle the increased flow of data and remain efficient, whilst also ensuring new employees can access and utilise communications easily. However, communications systems are not as well-equipped to manage increased worker numbers as more modern technology.

If a business is still using phones that run on traditional phone lines, additional employees will need a new line installed, so they can communicate with their customers and fellow employees. This takes a lot of time and is expensive. With unified communications, businesses simply add a new account to their existing solution and new employees only need to be given a log in for the platform and download the platform to their digital devices of choice (mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc.) before they are ready to begin work. Quick and simple!

What is the Difference Between Unified Communications and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)?

Employees working on laptops

If you have been investigating unified communications, you may have come across the abbreviation ‘UCaaS’ – this stands for ‘unified communications as a Service’ and while it does differ from unified communications in a way, the two share the same purpose.

Put simply, while unified communications are the title of platforms which offer multiple forms of communication, UCaaS refers to the same technology when it is managed by an external party from the business utilising the system. A business may have adopted unified communications into its day-to-day operations, but the monitoring and management of that system is in the hands of an external provider, who may deal with things such as updating the applications, security and file storage at their off-site data centre. Many businesses opt for UCaaS as it lightens their workload and allows their IT staff to deal with more pressing matters within the business. This is in contrast with other businesses, which prefer to have full control and management over their systems due to specific security policies or compliance requirements.

Choose Elite Group for Your Unified Communications Solutions

If all of the above sounds like it could be a wise move for your business, and you’d like to explore your options regarding unified communications, Elite Group is here to help. Our experience and expertise in unified communications, and business communications as a whole, mean we are ready and able to help you transition away from your current communications solutions and implement a feature-rich, efficient and cost-effective unified communications solution within your existing structure, so you can reap the benefits.

By choosing Elite Group for your unified communications solution, you are relieving yourself of the pressures of sourcing and onboarding new technology alone. Our team of experts will assist and advise you during every step of the way, ensuring you receive maximum benefit from your new communications setup. To find out more, speak to an Elite Group specialist about our products and services today.