What We Learned, And How We Advanced, UC in 2010

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines  |  December 01, 2010

This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of Unified Communications Magazine

Good news! The percentage of organizations that have prepared a business case for UC adoption increased from 55 percent in 2009 to 67 percent in 2010, according to CDW’s (News - Alert) 2010 Unified Communications Tracking Poll.

Seems more organizations are becoming aware of the many benefits of UC, which CDW notes include reduced costs, increased productivity and improved decision-making – all of which are of heightened importance in tough economic times. The poll, for which CDW surveyed 915 IT professionals in the U.S. across various verticals, also indicates that 54 percent of IT managers that weighed in report the top benefit of UC is reduced operating costs. And 71 percent of those polled that have implemented UC, and track the return on investment based on it, say that UC ROI has met or exceeded their expectations.

“High ROI is one of the major benefits of unified communications,” says Brian Kopf, manager of unified communications practice at CDW. “Every organization is going to be different in how it measures ROI, but in the corporate world, we see a lot of organizations trying to reduce their operating costs and increase efficiency.The fact that ROI is the biggest driver in implementing unified communications just drives home that point.”

He adds that organizations in the health care vertical are using, or may be considering the use of, UC to improve the quality of service to their patients. Those in academia are using UC to manage costs, says Kopf.

For all the gains that UC made in 2010, it will take time until unified communications sees full adoption, says Gary Iles, senior director of strategy and product management for ACT Conferencing.

“It requires deployment, technical competencies from the IT organization, and also user adoption and behavioral changes,” says Iles of ACT Conferencing. “Solution approaches are varied since they are coming from hardware providers, software providers, conferencing service providers, SaaS (News - Alert) providers and involving devices such as ‘pads’ and PDAs. The angles of attack are varied and don’t necessarily work well together. So, the final end state of UC is unknown since the possibilities are endless.”

Andy McLoughlin, co-founder and executive vice president of strategy at online collaboration company Huddle, which recently announced an integration deal with Xobni (News - Alert), agrees. That’s what great about it, he adds, saying unified communications enabled by this partnership, as one example, allows people at businesses to step out from under the shadow of the IT department and use the tools that work for them.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi