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Unified Communications
Q & A
UC Mag
Richard "Zippy" Grigonis
Executive Editor,

IP Communication Group

60 Seconds with Janyce Harper
VP of Marketing, North America, Siemens Enterprise Communications

Janyce Harper is Vice President of Marketing, North America, for Siemens Enterprise Communications. She recently spoke with Zippy on the day Siemens announced the findings of its "Unified Communications in the Enterprise" study, showing strong interest in UC in large enterprises. The study was conducted for Siemens by Market Tools of San Francisco.


RG: What does this study encompass?


JH: We did this survey to explore patterns and investigate objections and roadblocks to implementing unified communications, specifically at large enterprises, which we defined as having more than 2,000 employees. As for UC, there are many different definitions of UC, so we wanted to make sure that we had nailed down a uniform definition before we went ahead with the survey. We define UC as the unification of all relevant business communications in that we include voice, email, video, mobile and instant messaging into a simple, seamless experience, regardless of device.


We talked to 506 business people: 252 IT and telephony people and 254 end users - an even split between those responsible for implementing UC and the endusers of enterprise communications systems UC. We also looked at a very broad cross-section of industries, about a dozen, and a wide geographic distribution across the U.S., so there wasn't one particular focus.


RG: Did any interesting trends emerge?


JH: Some trends we discovered through the survey findings are that, perhaps not surprisingly, UC is entering the mainstream. More than half of the companies we talked to are either discussing or have already implemented UC in some form or fashion. 47 percent are not discussing it, but 53 percent of large U.S. enterprises are actively pursuing UC installations. In fact, 16 percent have already installed UC systems and 37 percent plan to do so within the next 24 months. The most common benefits companies expect to achieve are increased productivity and business responsiveness.


We asked the same questions of all the different groups. For example, what the objections or concerns are that people are experiencing with their investigations of UC or actual implementations. For those who have already implemented UC, their concerns include security issues. The main challenges companies believe they face when implementing UC is that UC is seen as an all-or-nothing product in that they believe they must rip-and-replace, or that it requires proprietary solutions. This implies that they think UC can potentially be difficult and expensive to adopt. Of those who are in the process of implementing UC, the results were similar. For 76 percent of respondents, the top concerns are security and that UC requires rip-and-replace or proprietary software.


We see definite commonalities across all of those. It's also true with companies considering implementing UC, with a slightly higher percentage - at 93 percent - that see UC as an all-or-nothing solution. Again, 91 percent saw it as too complex, difficult and expensive to deploy, and 90 percent had security concerns. There was also much commonality among end users. We asked them how they thought UC could benefit their companies and more than 90 percent saw increased productivity, improved responsiveness and speeding of business processes as highly beneficial. But their Number One interest is cost savings, which is certainly something that everybody is looking at, particularly in today's economic environment.


Another telling item concerns the end user perspective of how their companies are doing in terms of UC - surprisingly, two-thirds of the end users rank their own companies' UC efforts as average at best. 28 percent responded that there was just a "glimmer of hope" or that their companies were "stuck in the dark ages". This reflects a disconnect between IT staff and end users seen elsewhere in the study. For example, 29 percent said they had "much" or "extreme" interest in UC. Yet when IT was asked to estimate the end user interest, only 21 percent of IT thought that level of interest existed. In fact, among companies who were not considering UC, only two percent of IT staff estimated that end user interest in UC was "much" or "extreme".


RG: So some people still think UC may be difficult and expensive to implement?


JH: That's why our Siemens OpenScape UC Server and the OpenScape UC Suite are designed with an open SOA architecture that integrates seamlessly into a multivendor environment and enables customers to implement UC in a building block approach so they can transform their communications at their own pace and according to their unique technology requirements.


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