David Lim, of Centillion Environment & Recycling, originally estimated the implementation of unified communications and collaboration (UCC) technology in his company would pay for itself within eight months. It took only seven.
“We have eight factories in the US from New York to California, and weekly meetings where people flew to some mid-way point. The travelling was madness”, said Lim, the general manager of IT for Centillion. He had recommended to his boss that installing UCC would create savings in travelling costs and time.
Lim and senior IT directors attended the CIO Asia roundtable discussion at the China Club in Singapore in March to share their experiences on the use, benefits and challenges of UCC.
The roundtable was hosted by Ross O. Storey, managing editor of Fairfax Business Media Asia and editor of CIO Asia magazine. It was sponsored by UCC specialist Avodaq, the only German systems integrator for UCC in Asia, and communications giant Cisco Systems.
State of UCC
Three quarters of Asia Pacific organisations have declared that they are considering the adoption of UCC, according to MIS IT Nation research carried out in late 2010. Conducted by CIO Asia’s sister magazine - MIS Asia - the survey pointed to a surge in Asia interest in UCC.
Storey observed that “misunderstandings about unified communications and collaboration are preventing many Asia enterprises from enjoying the efficiency, productivity and collaboration benefits this approach has proved it can deliver.”
He said it was apt that the theme for the discussion was “De-mystifying UCC for Greater Efficiency”.
“A UCC approach makes real-time systems - such as instant messaging - share information with non real-time systems, such as e-mail or voice mail - and runs them over the same network,” Storey said.
A fully implemented UCC system integrates the various means of communications and their associated devices seamlessly such that anytime, users are aware of the presence of those they need to collaborate with in the network. They can expeditiously contact each other using the most suitable mode of communication, regardless of where they are located.
Participants of a collaborative discussion could be geographically distributed in different countries and yet get the job done through approaches such as live video conferencing through their smartphones, tablets or a dedicated room in a company, hotel or public facility like Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Recent research has found that, on average, organisations now support at least seven different communication tools and applications used by employees.
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