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Wainhouse Research (WR) defines a unified communications (UC) system as a collaborative communications environment that includes elements of presence, instant messaging, telephony, audio conferencing, web or data collaboration, unified messaging (a common message store for voicemail, email, and faxes), mobility, and video conferencing all accessible in an ad hoc, multimodal fashion through a single client interface or within an embedded application interface. Before the emergence of unified communications, people often were required to decide in advance which communications modality they wished to use (voice, mobile phone, email, IM, web, or video) and separate communications channels for each were established. Typically, these could not be changed or augmented while a meeting was in progress.
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