What Is Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC)?
Whether it’s business teams collaborating on a project from different offices, students attending a lecture from geographically dispersed classrooms, or medical professionals sharing a patient care plan, people are using technology to work and learn together in ways never before possible. But estimates suggest that somewhere between 40 million and 60 million conference rooms are in dire need of modernization.1
Unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions overcome the barriers of distance by making it easy and intuitive to share screens, voice, and video feeds. UCC doesn’t refer to a single technology. It involves several hardware and software components, often from different vendors, that integrate with one another. As a result, systems can be used together seamlessly, allowing participants to:
- Voice conference
- Share screens
- Instant message
- View attendance
The right unified collaboration tools can help companies, schools, universities, and healthcare organizations work more productively, which often translates into cost savings.
How Does UCC Work?
UCC solutions integrate real-time communications, such as video, voice, and messaging, into a single interface. These solutions are most often used in enterprise communications, education, and healthcare, but they have other applications as well.
- Business teams can videoconference, share presentations, and edit content as they go.
- Smart classrooms can encourage active learning by allowing students to share content from their laptops to an interactive flat panel display.
- Doctors can switch TVs and monitors from general content to a patient’s X-rays to go over results.
- Specialists can reach patients in rural communities with the use of interactive telemedicine kiosks.
- Witnesses can give legal testimonials with UCC solutions in the courtroom.
- Participants can virtually attend city council meetings or other government events from remote locations.
Benefits and Challenges with UCC
Thanks to unified communication tools, people can collaborate and share resources in seconds from many different locations. The ability to collaborate remotely is becoming more critical, as roughly half of employees globally are now working outside their main office headquarters at least two and a half days a week.2 Plus, the latest UCC solutions have advanced functionality that make it easier to upload files and share content. However, IT teams continue to face challenges in deploying UCC systems.
|Challenges of UCC Deployment
||Until recently, setting up a fully equipped meeting room could cost an organization tens of thousands of dollars, plus the ongoing costs of IT management.
||Users don’t always have a clear way to troubleshoot problems with UCC systems—for example, is a failed connection due to an issue with the speaker or the display?
||Not all UCC hardware and software integrate well with each other. The addition of new features makes each component more complex.
|Ease of use
||Users expect a simple experience when it comes to connecting to a display, starting a meeting, and sharing content.
|Demands on compute
||The more applications and features are added to software, the harder devices must work to support them.
With high-performance, interoperable hardware and software, organizations can deploy UCC systems that are affordable, easy to manage, simple to use, and work with popular applications and tools.
Intel® Technologies for Unified Communications and Collaboration
Deploying a modern UCC solution requires high-performance hardware and full-featured, interoperable software. Intel® technologies support UCC solutions in both areas, at a cost that’s within reach for many organizations.
Interactive Flat Panel Displays
For the meeting room, classroom, or clinic, interactive flat panel displays powered by Intel® Core™ processors are designed for simple installation and ease of use. With support for ultrahigh-definition (UHD) visuals and responsive touchscreens, they are ideal for interactive whiteboarding, videoconferencing, and screen sharing. Users can connect and share content from their own devices or use multitouch capabilities on the display.
Intel® NUC mini PCs, kits, and boards are also strong computing options for conferencing and collaboration. With an ultrasmall form factor and excellent graphics capabilities, the Intel® NUC can power full-featured conference rooms, breakout rooms, and other collaboration spaces.
Intel®-based interactive flat panel displays are based on the Open Pluggable Specification (OPS). OPS standardizes system architecture between displays and media players, improving interoperability and simplifying setup. Additionally, the Intel® Smart Display Module (Intel® SDM) is a specification and reference design that enables intelligence and interoperability for interactive flat panel displays.
With interactive flat panel displays based on the Intel vPro® platform Enterprise for Windows, IT teams get additional features. These include remote management capabilities that allow IT administrators to diagnose, upgrade, and repair devices, even when they’re out of band.
The next generation of interactive flat panel displays will be designed to offer embedded AI capabilities powered by computer vision and speech recognition. These features include people-counting to show how many participants attended a meeting, automatic framing to focus on active participants, and speech recognition to provide transcriptions in real time. Intel® Movidius™ VPUs and Intel® FPGAs provide the acceleration for these new capabilities.
The Intel Unite® solution reduced meeting downtime by up to 15 percent compared with legacy solutions.3
The Intel Unite® Solution
The Intel Unite® solution modernizes meeting rooms and transforms them into smart, connected spaces. Users can connect easily, securely, and without wires. Whether inside or outside the conference room or classroom, participants can collaborate more productively.
The Intel Unite® solution works with all major devices, operating systems, and displays. Plugins make it easy to add tools and functionality, like Skype for Business, Zoom, in-room controls, and whiteboarding.
Organizations that use the Intel Unite® solution can avoid much of the downtime associated with starting meetings and switching presenters. According to a Forrester Total Economic Impact™ study commissioned by Intel, the Intel Unite® solution reduced meeting downtime by up to 15 percent compared with legacy solutions.4 Meetings are also up to 5 percent more productive, saving on average 2.25 minutes.4 Plus, with the Intel Unite® solution, organizations don’t need to install cables and adapters in new conference rooms, reducing IT and labor costs.4
Collaboration within Reach
In the past, the costs of setting up and maintaining high-caliber meeting rooms were simply too high for many organizations. Together, Intel-based interactive flat panel displays and the Intel Unite® solution offer an out-of-the-box solution that doesn’t require complicated setup or high costs. People can collaborate from anywhere and make the most of their time, while IT can benefit from easier management and better results.