I believe the unified communications (UC) market is growing, due to social networking, BYOD and an increasingly mobile workforce. But the question of course is about RoI.
A mobile workforce with increased expectations of video communications and more team-based workflows is forcing enterprises to embrace new methods of communication and collaboration.
UC means integrating real-time and non-real time communication with business processes. Key is an ability to present a consistent, unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types, harnessing various components including email, instant messaging, voice calling, web conferencing, online presence, web chat and document sharing.
All this must be unified with an integrated user interface over multiple devices.
I believe IT managers now have a budget for UC, based on surveys I have read. There is renewed interest in implementing UC, and UC is being taken seriously within the enterprise.
It's all about getting the right information to the right person at the right time without wasted effort in communication.
Customer frustration and complaints, too, are often due to internal communications inadequacies, such as a lack of communication between departments and an inability to contact the correct person. What started as a simple customer query can end up as a complaint.
Often, this stems from the communication policies and technology of the company. But I believe implementing the right UC elements could change all that.
Employees are often less productive and responsive to their employer when off-site. Aside from the length of time it can take to do something in this instance, there can be multiple additional costs in doing so.
BYOD, younger people in the workplace, the arrival of social media in the workplace and increasingly mobile employees can all result in complex delivery and the presence of multiple technologies from multiple vendors. Often the result is little real collaboration, because the collaboration tools required cannot be accessed.
In my view UC provides the answer here as well, enhancing both internal and external communication and collaboration. This can speed up projects and time to market, shorten sales cycles and improve customer service – all of which can boost revenue.
Multi-party and multimedia collaborative conversations can be done on any device, via a single server – smartphone, tablet, deskphone or PC. Want to check something with accounts while still on a call? Easy. Multimedia conversations can be moved seamlessly between devices.
The RoI of implementing UC has not been widely documented, but it can improve employee efficiency and productivity, as well as speed up business decisions. It can help manage business process latency. Reduced personal intervention can reduce maintenance costs, and reduced travel and infrastructure can reduce opex.
The real RoI from UC is when it is tied to every business process, helping companies transform their businesses and the way work is carried out and completed.
Manish Sablok is a regional head of marketing at Alcatel-Lucent
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