Unified communications solutions that tap managed services and cloud-based delivery models could play a key role in driving the adoption of UC tech. So says new research from CompTIA, the IT industry association.
According to the study, interest in unified communications (UC) remains high, with four out of five companies seeing value in the technology. Large- and medium-size companies and those with a higher proportion of telecommuting workers are most bullish. What's more, budgets for communications and collaboration solutions are on the rise, at 85 percent of surveyed companies.
We caught up with Seth Robinson, director of technology analysis at CompTIA, to get more perspectives on the survey and what it means for the UC market. As he sees it, UC is more of a concept than an actual product.
"It's about having a set of communications tools that serve various needs, then having those tools very tightly integrated with each other," Robinson said. "A company may choose to have many or few endpoint tools depending on their needs. So adoption of unified communications is more accurately viewed on a scale considering the number of tools being used and the degree that they work together."
UC Adoption Challenges
Robinson also pointed to challenges the survey uncovered, including integrating new unified communications tools with existing technologies; calculating return on investment; and how to incorporate mobility, social networking, collaboration and video conferencing.
"There are three areas that play into a business not becoming more UC-enabled. First, the technology for newer tools may have quality or reliability issues. This can be especially true of tools that are attempting to work across multiple operating systems or Web browsers," Robinson said.
Second, he added, end users may struggle to adopt new forms of communication and simply rely on those tools that they are most familiar with, namely voice systems or e-mail. Finally, he said, while businesses are increasing investments for communications -- 41 percent say this area is growing relative to other parts of the IT budget -- this may be only for the purchase of new tools.
Focusing the UC Discussion
Technology solution providers are in a prime position to help companies address their unified communications needs, beginning by leading clients through a needs assessment to determine which style and tool options might work best. Robinson cites video conferencing as a prime example.
One of the ways to possibly bring focus to the UC discussion is to focus on business metrics. Reducing costs and improving employee productivity are the top priorities among businesses for their communications strategies -- both of these areas are rated as high priorities by 68% of companies, Robinson said.
"But only 49 percent rate improved business metrics as a high priority, even though these metrics -- such as improved customer satisfaction or a shortened sales cycle -- are the real drivers for a company," he concluded. "To improve these metrics, it may require building new processes that are enabled by new communications tools."
Posted: 2012-05-31 @ 7:13pm PT
Employee productivity is only good if it results in improved business results, so I am surprised that only 49% of respondents see that. Maybe it depends on who you are asking the question.