More Users Seeing the Value of Unified Communications

Carl Weinschenk

Though the study described in this release was conducted in Europe, the results should still apply to the United States. The survey, done by BT and the Aite Group, offers interesting opinions about the use of unified communications in the financial trading sector. While it's valuable to look at what the study says specifically about that sector, it's also important to acknowledge the subtext: The impact of the new platform will vary greatly between vertical industries.


Sixty percent of respondents said voice functionality was important during trading. Instant messaging was a close second and video conferencing was third. Eighty percent of respondents said "external collaboration" is a key benefit brought by UC, though more than 40 percent said their systems offered "low to no" integration between tools. This, the report pointed out, suggests a good opportunity for integration providers.


The results are consistent with findings from Nemertes Research, which conducted a study this spring. Among top findings were that 67 percent of enterprises deployed IP video to connect room-based systems. It found that the portion of companies deploying UC-enabling real-time communications dashboards rose from 2.5 percent to 14 percent during the past year, with significant increases expected during the next two years. Other findings point to speedy adoption of various applications generally considered part of UC.


There seems to be no shortage of news. This week, for instance, Nortel used its Global Connect 2007 event to announce that it and IBM in the fourth quarter will release its Unified Communications products aimed at small businesses. This piece, at E-Channel Line, says details are sketchy but that the idea is to offer small companies single-box UC.


UC is a broad and amorphous category that will produce tremendous revenue during the next decade. Though it still is not precisely defined, it is clear that Cisco and Microsoft will be key players. Mike Gotta, a principal analyst at Burton Group, told us a few weeks ago that Cisco will try to make UC network-centric, while Microsoft wants it to be a horizontal software play in which applications are voice-enabled.


There is a lot of good insight available into the companies' strategies. This ZDNet column says Microsoft will focus on its Exchange and Office Communications servers and, under this umbrella, provide software and hosted UC services to PBX systems, desktop phones, VoIP phones, Web conferencing, faxes and mobile phones. Cisco's strategy, according to eWeek, clearly is network-based and revolves around the acquisition earlier this year of WebEx. Ongoing initiatives will focus on WebEx Connect, a platform unveiled last September that still is in beta tests, the story says.

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