Many of us have experienced what might loosely be termed ‘digital fatigue’ at one point or another. Mainly used to refer to the feeling of tiredness around the eyes you get from staring at a screen for too long, digital fatigue could easily be applied to a whole host of other symptoms, too.
What about that feeling of absolute frustration when you know 100 per cent you have seen a document you really need on an email attachment, but no matter how many times you search your cluttered inbox, it just doesn’t appear?
Or how about when a file gets passed between several colleagues for amendments and comments, and yet when it finally gets returned to you, somehow you get the original, with no changes saved? Or what about the exasperation of trying toggle between several different apps all at once, as you try to hold down a conversation by video while reading information from an email while IM’ing a colleague to clarify something?
All of these are different examples of a common opinion many share about technology. For all its benefits, it still finds a way to make things more difficult than they need to be.
Over the past few years, an increasing number of UC vendors have turned to tackling this very problem. The crossover from communications into workstream technology has been quite natural. By finding ever more efficient and intuitive ways to keep people connected, UC technology has increasingly provided assistance to how people work with one another. We call the results of this evolution team collaboration software.
With its roots dating back to the original Siemens Telegraph company in the 1800s, Unify can consider itself one of the world’s oldest, as well as largest, business telecommunications enterprises. In that long and illustrious history, it has seen plenty of changes in communications technology, and has embraced them all. Team collaboration is no exception.
In this review, we will take a closer look at Unify’s flagship team collaboration platform, Circuit, and ask how successfully this market leading example tackles some of the problems of users face with digital workstreams. We will unpick the key characteristics which enable more efficient, stress-free collaboration in flexible modern teams when colleagues are not necessarily all in the same place at any one time.
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What can it do?
Unify Circuit is a cloud-based hosted service built around the WebRTC protocol. WebRTC allows real-time communication, be it voice, video or text, to take place directly in a web browser. So unlike most other UCaaS solutions to date, to use Circuit you don’t even need to download a particular app or install a piece of software. You simply log in on any device with a web browser, and you get access to the full suite of functions.
This suite includes HD voice and video, IM, conferencing, presence, file and screen sharing. It is a single-pane-of-glass solution, so as soon as you log on, all features and functions are there ready and available in one place. You don’t have to start clicking and toggling from one app or screen to the next to move from IM to video to file sharing and so on, it all arranges itself neatly to fit on a single screen.
You can also launch any function directly from within any other, with a single click. So taking one of the examples from above, if you are on a video call and need to check something out with a colleague, you simply open your contacts panel, hover over the name you need and click to chat. You can then type your query as you carry on your video conversation.
What makes Circuit distinct from a typical UCaaS platform is the focus on sharing and collaborative workspaces. Even though it is browser-based, Circuit gives you access to any files stored on your computer, or whatever device you are using, as well as to documents stored in a cloud platform like Box.
Where Circuit really comes in handy is how it supports access to files from across different devices. You might, for example, have shared a document from your work laptop during a conference call during the day, discussed it and made changes. You get home and suddenly remember you need to check something – only you don’t have your laptop with you. No problem, with Circuit you can log on using any other device, and the file will be stored with your earlier conversation.
For this reason, Unify promotes Circuit as an alternative to email, with better document and conversation storage making it easier to find the information you really need. It also fully supports mobile, so you always have that information at your fingertips. Understanding that many mobile users do not use a web browser to get online, Circuit also has dedicated iOS and Android apps available, which work in exactly the same way as the browser version.
What do we like?
Circuit is very much part of the new generation of collaboration and ‘social networking’ business sites, which reshape some of the form and functionality of social media for a business audience. But while it includes some fun consumer-type touches like ‘professional’ emoticons, it does not lose sight of the fundamentals of business-class communication. The HD video and voice quality are excellent, and unlike many of its rivals, Circuit also offers easy connection to your telephone system, so you can make internal and external calls from within the Circuit interface.
Through the reseller channel, Unify offers what it calls a ‘Triple Play’ service, designed to provide bespoke solutions from the Unify product portfolio for the needs of every client. Based on the three-stage questioning involved, we would guess that Circuit is mainly recommended for clients who prefer the OPEX model of a cloud subscription service. With three subscription tiers, it is suitable for organisations of all sizes.
What is it compatible with?
Circuit offers out-of-the-box compatibility with Box.com for sharing and collaborating on files, and can also be plugged into Microsoft Outlook email and Exchange. Via the Unify OpenScape Session Border Control, it can also be integrated with a Unify office phone system, including access to external phone lines via a SIP trunk.
How much does it cost?
Circuit is available as a hosted service at the following price points:
- Team edition: £2.95 per user per month
- Professional edition: £4.95 per user per month
- Enterprise edition: £10.95 per user per month.
Through syndicated Unify resellers, there is currently an ongoing offer for a free Circuit package for up to 100 users, available to new and existing customers.
For more information, visit Unify’s Circuit homepage.
If you had to sum up the examples of digital fatigue, or perhaps digital frustration, we outlined at the beginning, you would say they all stemmed from technology failing to make work easier. In some cases, it may even make things trickier, which defeats the point.
Circuit is certainly designed to make working together, wherever team members may be, as simple as possible. With easy browser access on any device, simple navigation in a single pane of glass, handy document storage and high quality communications tools, Circuit is a model example of how UCaaS solutions have evolved to make work easier.
Are you a Unify Circuit customer? What do you make of it? How would you rate it on making collaboration between your teams easier? Whatever your thoughts, we are always very pleased to hear them. So please feel free to leave a comment in the section below, and why not share this article on social media and invite friends and colleagues to join in the conversation as well.
Look & Feel
A convenient single-pane-of-glass platform for smarter collaboration.