The real meaning of… Unified Communications (UC)

The secret class system at work behind the marketing hype of Unified Communications

Like many IT phrases, the marketing theory and practical reality of UC are polar opposites. In theory, there is some sort of cohesive unity between all the different channels of communication. It’s so important to pursue an OMNI channel strategy, they say. Each technology user, whether they like writing letters or web chatting, shouting or SMSing, phoning or faxing, instant messaging or putting a hopeful message in a bottle (also known as emailing) should be given equal weighting. So they pretend. From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs - that’s the implication of corporate marketing messages.

As usual, in reality, it’s the complete opposite. The whole smorgasbord of communications channels re-creates the class system, only in a far more brutally efficient and granular way. OMNI channels give companies the power to differentiate on multiple levels, between all the various types of humanity. This inevitably leads to an automated class system of OMNI-snobbery. Go to any marketing technology show, and the men on the stands will proudly demonstrate how Call Line Identification allows companies to be discriminating about each customer. Having checked with the database that Lenny Lowstatus has an unfashionable postcode, a switch will automatically route his phone to a call centre in a country where workers rights are even less impressive than their wages. By contrast, an incoming call from a VIP gets put through to a deferential and sympathetic soul who not only speaks the same language but isn’t tied to a script! What a gulf in communications there is, between the VIPs and we ‘not very important people’.

Did UC what I did there?


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