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September 12, 2007

Rutledge: How Unified is Unified?

Erik Linask, Associate Editor,
Internet Telephony magazine


With all the hype surrounding Unified Communications, Quintum (News - Alert) Technologies’ vice president of marketing Chuck Rutledge posed this question as he opened his keynote address at INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO: “How Unified is Unified Communications?”
 
The potential of Unified Communication, he said, agreeing with Interactive Intelligence’s Donald Brown, who addressed the crowd just minutes earlier, is nothing short of amazing.  Having acknowledged that, he then questioned whether UC is really about changing the way we do business, or is just another over-hyped technology?
 
The issue, Rutledge asserted, is the convergence gap that exists between voice and data applications, for that is where the true value of unified communications lies.  From a management perspective, the challenge is achieving business goals, and inefficient and ineffective communications are detrimental to achieving those goals.
 
The number of mobile employees, teleworkers, and virtual teams is only going to increase, and to meet their communications needs, companies must implement new communications strategies — the hope is that these communications products will enable greater productivity and enhance the overall business process (and, of course, lower overall costs).
 
If this is true, everyone should be running unified communications solutions.
 
Alas, there are hurdles to overcome — hurdles that get in the way of completely closing the convergence gap.
 
For one thing, most businesses shy away from a total forklift upgrade.  Many also have a fear of business disruption, and still others are hesitant to give up their investment in existing TDM infrastructures.  Yes, businesses what to adopt unified communications solutions, but they want to be able to do it in a way that leverages their existing voice technology.  In addition, they need to be able to integrate legacy endpoints, which Rutledge says are not part of a true UC solution.
 
Finally, it is important that the new solutions be both easy to deploy and manage.
 
If these requirements can be met, the promise unified communications holds for closing the convergence gap can, indeed be met, concluded Rutledge.
 
Erik Linask is Associate Editor of INTERNET TELEPHONY, IMS Magazine, and Unified Communications.  Prior to joining TMC, he was Managing Editor at Global Custodian, an international securities services publication. To see more of his articles, please visit Erik Linask’s columnist page.
 

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