What is Unified Communications?

Unified Communications (UC) integrates various communication tools and technologies within an organization, encompassing voice, video, messaging, email, presence information, and conferencing accessible through a unified interface. Key components include voice and video communication, instant messaging, email integration, conferencing, mobility support, unified messaging, and integration with business applications. UC aims to enhance productivity, streamline workflows, foster collaboration, reduce costs, and offer a seamless user experience, particularly beneficial for organizations with distributed teams or remote workers aiming to modernize their communication infrastructure. 

Due to the bundled nature of UC solutions they can be limiting in their scalability and usability so let’s explore when it is appropriate to look at the individual components independently… 

Automated Conferencing

As you can imagine, when you bundle services like this, there can be limitations. A conferencing “feature” of a UC platform is different that a conferencing “service” which can be independently.

  • Traditionally when it is a feature on a platform you will be restricted to connection options that include either computer audio or a limited selection of NGN (U.S. Toll) numbers. There tends to be a lower capacity limit such as 10-20 concurrent participants that can’t be used simultaneously so multiple people would have to coordinate use if they anticipate more than a few callers. 
  • A conferencing service however gives you several connection options including domestic toll-free, international numbers (ITL and ITFS), and dial-out capabilities. The capacity is significantly increased to several hundred concurrent connections making it more scalable. Due to the flexible pricing model you are able to provision your entire staff with conference lines that they can use as needed since all of the features and content sharing options aren’t always necessary. 

Operator Assisted Conferencing 

Conferencing as defined as part of UC is always going to be automated meaning there is no human interaction. Sometimes you need not just a larger capacity but someone to manage those connections including gather information from them, give a formal introduction, conduct a formal Q&A session or other dynamics that can’t be duplicated by an automated platform. Operator Assisted Conferencing can be used independently and give you these capabilities. 

Outside of the UC environment, operator-assisted conference calls are essential for high-quality service, particularly in large-scale events and complex setups, ensuring seamless operation and professionalism. With features like participant management and live Q&A facilitation, they guarantee smooth communication. The increased customization options available further enhance the experience. While they may incur added costs, the benefits of added support and professionalism make them invaluable for events prioritizing quality, reliability, and security.


It is important to draw the distinction between webcasting and web-conferencing. Web-conferencing is collaborative in nature and allows for the sharing of visual content over the web, where webcasting is more of a presentation platform for broadcasting a message to a large audience. Because this is the case, while web-conferencing can be more of a built-in feature of a UC strategy, webcasts tend to be more event based so would be arranged ahead of time and promoted. Hence, the need for a delivery platform outside of the traditional UC bundle for increased capacity, complete event management, and added features for audience engagement. 

Webcasts support one-to-many communication, fostering knowledge sharing and continuous learning through training sessions and seminars. Interactive features enhance engagement, while cost savings are achieved through reduced travel expenses. Improved accessibility benefits remote participants, and archived content ensures valuable information remains available. Additionally, webcasting solutions are scalable, adapting to evolving communication needs without significant infrastructure investments.

Cloud Communications

It’s a common theme of this article, but similarly implementing a cloud-based phone service outside of a bundled UC environment has advantages as well. The lines can be blurred between Cloud Communications and Unified Communications so that’s an important distinction to draw as well. Unified Communications focuses on integrating diverse communication channels into a unified system, while Cloud Communications specifically refers to communication services delivered over the internet using cloud-based infrastructure. While there is overlap between the two concepts, they serve different purposes and can be implemented separately or in conjunction with each other, depending on your organization’s needs and preferences. Click here for a detailed comparison. 

Unified Communications is important for all businesses, especially as you scale. Have a strategy that includes all the components of it. However, know the limitations of each of them so you can understand when it is important to explore options outside of the UC “bundle” or “box” that they are typically sold in. Contact Us today to learn more about how to navigate this landscape.


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