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April 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 4
Inside Networking

UC Where You’re Going

Just when most enterprises have started to deploy IP telephony systems, unified communications (UC) has become all the buzz. As Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft (News - Alert) said, “it [UC] means everything and it means nothing... If you do a demo, people say, ‘I get it, I want that’.” So if you’ve seen it, you probably want it, but where should you start?

You Have Written Your Last IP Telephony RFP: The advantages of IP Telephony are clear: the economics of network convergence, plug-and-play telephony, business agility and new clients. Going forward, think unified communications, not just IP Telephony, to ensure that there is a clear path, from what you buy today and where you may want to be tomorrow. This includes addressing the needs to provide tight integration between UC and email, calendaring, directories and generally desktop applications, which for the majority of people means Microsoft or IBM (News - Alert).

Mobility and UC Are A Marriage Made in Heaven: The roles of many users include a need to stay connected anytime, anywhere. It’s all about minimizing the ‘time to X’, where X is closure with a customer, project decision or problem resolution. Many enterprises recognize that equipping users with UC clients delivers considerably more collaboration value via telephony, IM, presence, collaboration and application sharing, than just having your desktop phone logically with you in the form of a soft client for your laptop.

UC-enable Your Contact Center: Superior more engaging customer service is a strategic imperative for many enterprises, and governments at all levels. Often the key metric is revenues and/or services per customer, achieved through up-selling and cross-selling of products and solutions. Convergence (News - Alert) has made it easier to distribute agents anywhere, to leverage UC to improve management across the contact center and to extend the virtual contact centers to experts across the enterprise. One financial institution has deployed multimedia kiosks working into UC-enabled contact centers, to extend the reach of its financial services.

Help Your Distributed Team Collaborate Better: Contact centers represent but one, very important, set of employees that need to collaborate. Other groups include the executive team, field sales and support, and IT itself. The key is to identify distributed groups of employees who work together on a business-impacting time-sensitive common goal, the acceleration of which would lower cost, close more business or shorten delivery intervals.

Do UC the future? Addressing the short-term opportunities identified above can help you leverage unified communications technologies for business advantage. IT

Tony Rybczynski is Director of Strategic Enterprise Technologies at Nortel (News - Alert). He has over 20 years experience in the application of packet network technology. For more information, please visit

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