Unified communications remains among the most challenging of topics in the IT sector. Most of the main applications that users actually employ already exist. UC is the thread that knits them together and enables them to work far more efficiently. That's great -- but a bit hard to explain.
A few studies released recently made the point, collectively, that people like UC even if they are not completely sure what it is. This No Jitter post by Nemertes analyst Irwin Lazar provides some early feedback on unified communications research that the firm is doing. The results are positive from a UC proponent's point of view.
The bottom line is that a there is growing interest in UC, starting with consolidating communications applications in a common desktop client. The idea is to gradually move more deeply into the core of the enterprise to tightly integrate UC systems and business processes. Lazar says that the confusion over what UC is has lifted a bit over the last year but still exists, and that companies still are struggling to create the business plans necessary to trigger large investments.
This European Communications report on a study by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Interactive Intelligence looks at the state of UC in Europe. The results show a decided inclination in favor of the platform. For instance, 87 percent of businesses are looking at UC as a near-term solution and only 13 percent are not considering it at all.The study found that 100 percent of retail, distribution and transport sector companies are interested in UC; that half said that the credit crunch would not impact spending; and that 58 percent hoped to make a great gain at initial investment while 38 percent aimed at operational improvements and better service quality. Eighty percent saw benefits in using UC to manage call centers.
This piece looks at research by UC Strategies that focused on people who actually have used the technology. The firm found that IM and presence are becoming centerpieces of UC to allows more intelligent contact initiation. However, respondents reported that the desired communications isn't always successfully established in a UC environment and that the federation across networks and enterprise boundaries is not yet comprehensive.
This must be the season for UC reports. Frost & Sullivan says that a growing acceptance of UC platforms and advances in technology are drastically changing communications. Recent related trends are the rapid adoption of fixed mobile convergence (FMC), presence and VoIP. The most important statement in the story is that how people communicate within and outside the enterprise is "fast becoming a key business differentiator." This, the report writer says, can be done far more efficiently within a UC platform.
The bottom line is that things are looking up for unified communications. People are understanding precisely what it is a bit more clearly. And, even more importantly, they like what they see.