UC vs. UCC: What the Heck is the Difference?

According to a recent Frost & Sullivan end-user survey on enterprise communications, a large percentage (42%) of end-users are confused about the terms UC and UCC.  Frankly, that seems low to me because it’s pretty darn confusing.

According to Garner’s IT Glossary,  Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) is a term that is used to describe a “combination of communications and collaboration technologies.”   On the other hand, Unified Communications (UC)  refers to the merging of voice, messaging and presence.  Or, as Dave Michel at Unified Communications Strategies puts it, “UC is more about the technologies and collaboration is more about the outcome.”  Say what?!?

If you ask me, there is no meaningful difference between the two terms.  UCC is simply a way to distinguish the recent enhancements (whatever they may be) that are being  added by many UC vendors to existing solutions.  In most cases, the distinctions are arbitrary.

To understand why, it helps to recall that the term UC originated from “Unified Messaging,” a term coined in the 1990’s to describe the unification of your inbox (that is, the combination of voicemail, email, SMS and fax).  As technologies evolved, Unified Messaging morphed into Unified Communications to include interactive communications such as video, IM and presence.  But, with the recent evolution of  technology to encompass more collaborative applications such as web conferencing,  web sharing, desktop sharing, application sharing, document sharing and beyond, vendors are eager to differentiate the new stuff from the old stuff.  And thus, a new segment is born.

Anyway you slice it, the term UC is yesterday’s news.  And, anyone that purports to know anything about the topic has moved on to current vogue nomenclature – UCC.   So the next time you find yourself at a cocktail party discussing collaboration, don’t get caught unawares.   Just remember where you heard it first.