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Most of the terminology related to the concept of collaboration is ambiguous. While a variety of apps and services enable collaboration, the process of collaboration is very much up to how people choose to interact with each other. Just as the term collaboration can mean many things, so can unified communications.
A UC deployment often refers to some kind of platform, not a single application. By its nature, a platform is like a container designed to hold many things. If there were only one thing -- or app -- to contain, it would be called a point product, not a platform.
UC platforms don't address any specific collaboration need themselves. Rather, platforms consist of underlying technologies that, in turn, integrate various apps to be used in an orchestrated fashion. These apps are the components of UC platforms, with the most familiar UC components being telephony, video, chat, text, email, conferencing and file sharing. Some of these apps are communications-related, such as voice, video and text, and others are productivity apps that support collaboration, such as conferencing.
The bottom line is the terms UC apps and UC platforms aren't interchangeable. A UC platform supports a suite of apps that can be used to help workers collaborate more effectively. UC platforms, however, are more than just a container for these apps. The real value comes from the technologies that allow these apps to be used together and in new ways to make for better collaboration outcomes.
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