There is little meaningful demarcation between unified communications and business-based social media. The two have been trending towards each other as they evolve. Both, after all, have to do with helping employees communicate more effectively across a multi-application platform. Any gap between the two is more in the mind of those in charge of deploying them than the end users.
Last week, InformationWeek ran a long piece describing how SAS is using Socialcast to mount internal social networking initiatives. It is a very interesting case study. This paragraph is near the beginning of the story:
“SAS had started down the path of creating social applications based on Microsoft SharePoint “when the project manager stumbled across Socialcast,” Lee said. “We realized it might be a better fit for us, given the timeframe in which we wanted to deliver on our requirements. One of the things that was important to me was that employees be able to reach success with communication through the system pretty quickly. I didn’t want it to be something that would take us eight months to a year to get out, and by the time you get it out, it’s old.”
One window shows all your applications. Companies are using unified communications (UC) platforms like Microsoft Lync and Avaya Flare as videoconferencing catchalls. These platforms consolidate all the windows workers have on their computer screens at any time, including videoconferences. They also integrate social media, so employees can video chat with anyone from their social networks. The trade-off, experts say, is that users must abandon preferred chat clients and adapt to using UC for everything.