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Unified Communications drives collaboration, cost savings (after a lot of hard work)

Brian Eastwood | Sept. 10, 2013
The consumerisation of IT is beginning to influence companies' decisions to implement unified communications

Vendors such as Logitech say UC systems are an easier sell at smaller firms because they can talk to a single decision maker, if not the business owner, Moss says. That said, enterprises taking a holistic look at unified communications - namely by appointing a Director of UC - are quicker to adopt. Billy Chia, product marketing manager for Digium, adds that simplified pricing models and a "social selling" approach, which engages vendors and prospects in real-time conversations, can boost adoption as well.

Above all, though, time may be the biggest enemy of UC implementation efforts. CIO tenure is about five years, and most CIOs are understandably ambitious. When they get to the corner office, they may intend to move toward a centralized infrastructure and may set a goal of UC adoption, says Hardy Myers, CEO of UC vendor AVST, but that five-year span may not be enough time to get it done.

UC Systems Improve Efficiency, Cut Travel Budgets
Challenges aside, ITXEPO speakers remain optimistic about unified communications' potential. When Hope demonstrated his UC systems' capability to send faxes to a school district employee's email, for example, "Everybody across the board thought this was the best thing since sliced bread."

Sanders, meanwhile, points to no longer having to support 120 telephone carriers and to the twofold benefit of teleconferencing. In addition to dramatically reducing the travel budget for internal meetings — which sometimes had 500 employees hitting the road in a single day — teleconferencing also opens those meetings up to larger groups than would have otherwise been accommodated by Republic Services' travel budget.

William Olsen, director of infrastructure, security and compliance services in Nevada Energy's information technology and telecommunications division, says his employees have taken this culture to another level. In a recent office visit, Olsen saw employees in three adjacent cubicles participating in a video conference. When he asked why they didn't just pop into a nearby conference room, one employee said the video conference allowed them to share desktops.

"It actually made them more efficient, even though they sat next to each other," Olsen says.

Nevada Energy is also seeing customer service improve as a result of unified communications, Olsen says. The utility can monitor call center data to study abandonment rate, for example, or gain insight into how a certain sales representative is able to drive so much revenue.

Finally, improved virtualization technology has made today's hypervisors better equipped to handle the I/O needs of real-time unified communications. Not only does this make for more flexible server distribution, says Jerry Stabile, chief operating officer of eZuce, it also reduces an organization's reliance on multi-tenancy and cloud-based UC deployments, which still concern CIOs whose firms handle sensitive data.Read more about unified communications in CIO's Unified Communications Drilldown.


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