Learning the ins and outs of unified communications shouldn’t require learning a whole new language, but it can feel that way when you come across unfamiliar industry terms and acronyms.
At ShoreTel we’re all about simplifying unified communications (UC). That’s why we’ve created a brilliantly simple business communications glossary that can give you the ABCs of VoIP UC, PDQ.
This blog is the fourth in a series that demystifies key UC phrases. If you missed our first three blogs, find them here:
- Glossary Blog 1: A+ in Customer Service
- Glossary Blog 2: Collaborative Contact Centers
- Glossary Blog 3: DEF Connected
This blog presents terms from H to L First we’ll make a statement loaded with specialized terms, then we’ll translate it with help from our Business Communications A to Z: A Helpful Compendium of Unified Communications & IP Telephony Terms, Acronyms & Phrases.
High Level UC
The IP PBX has revolutionized how enterprises do business. In its earliest days, IP phones often suffered from jitter and latency, but as bandwidth became widely available and more enterprises adopted leased lines, the quality of service soared. Through advances in IP telephony system architecture and the power of CTI (see blog #2), IP telephony systems emerged as full blown, highly stable unified communications solutions, offering features like IM, IVR, hunt groups, least cost routing and IP contact center. VoIP UC continues its technical advancement: the IEEE 802.11n wireless standard, IP VaaS and hosted VoIP offer new levels of service, speed and convenience.
In the 1990s, the IP PBX, or Internet Protocol Private Branch eXchange, revolutionized business communications by delivering voice calls over data networks enabled for the Internet protocols. In the earliest days, IP phones, which bypass conventional analog phone land lines and plug directly into the digital data network, often suffered from strange sounds, degraded voice quality and unnatural delays between speakers. These aural jitters and latency were due to network congestion, packet loss, data routing policies, geographical distance and lower-speed network connections. Today, broadband connections have become ubiquitous, and businesses often employ leased lines, which create private, point-to-point wide-area networks between enterprise locations, ensuring a high quality of service for voice and other applications.
IP telephony system architecture evolved in two directions: centralized systems that deliver dial tone through a central call control server, and distributed systems which utilize multiple call control servers in decentralized locations (thus offering greater system reliability and resilience). This improved stability, coupled with further integration of computers and telephony, meant that IP telephony systems could not only deliver voice, fax and other information traditionally sent over the public switched telephone network, but could offer a slew of new services.
Real-time text-based messages, popularly known as instant messaging or IM, brings new immediacy to communicating. Interactive voice response (IVR) allows customers quick, direct access to company and departmental call routing via keypad entry or speech recognition, bypassing harried receptionists—while hunt groups can guarantee that all calls are answered by a live person, rather than being put into queue or going to voicemail. Least cost routing means huge savings on carrier and bandwidth fees, as the system automatically selects the outbound communications path based on lowest cost. And IP contact centers mean companies can easily grow capacity one agent at a time, even distribute agents across vast geographic distances.
IP unified communications continues to evolve the newest and fastest technology, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) 802.11n protocol for wireless LANS, delivers up to 100Mbps performance–similar to or even better than wired networks. Hosted VoIP (also known as IP VaaS – IP voice as a service) is growing in popularity with clients who prefer to receive voice services via the cloud from a third-party provider who hosts, delivers and manages the operation remotely.
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