While VoIP and unified communication technologies are similar, a TMCNet article on the misconceptions associated with the services stated that they are not one and the same. Contributor Michelle Amodio said that "UC is the umbrella that covers VoIP," but unified communications systems include more features than VoIP.
"Converged applications such as UC can take advantage of IP and enable companies to not only increase revenue and decrease costs, but enhance productivity and improve customer service; however, let it be known that UC is not VoIP, and VoIP is not UC," Amodio wrote in the article. "The confusion lies in the fact that UC is IP-based, and that’s it."
The article stated that VoIP is a cost savings tool for many businesses and has shown to be a sort of stepping stone to organizations eventually deploying full unified communication solutions. The growing popularity of business VoIP has made it easier for companies to adopt UC, which is becoming a necessary tool for organizations to improve productivity levels and save on communication costs.
Both VoIP and UC are expected to see a boost in adoption rates over the next four years. According to Infonetics Research, use of the communication services is expected to double between now and 2016, with businesses and private users spending $377 billion on VoIP systems. Much of the growth will be driven by hosted VoIP and UC services, which are managed by the system's vendor.
Amodio said the two services complement each other but they can remain mutually exclusive. Having VoIP in place does make UC easier to deploy and to use, however, she said, as VoIP services already include tools such as voice-to-text forwarding that is already included in unified communication.
A Channel Partners article also discussed how VoIP and UC services are often confused as offering the same set of tools.
“In the beginning, UC was more focused on VoIP, then morphed into presence and SIP trunking before mobility became part of the equation," said a communication expert in the article.
As that expert noted, unified communications now offer mobile solutions, making it possible for enterprise employees on the go or working remotely to communicate and share information with coworkers. This enterprise mobility is becoming a major driver in UC, the article stated, with more businesses wanting a solution that offers employees the ability to work on their smartphones as well as at their desktops.