Unified communications future tipped to be rosy

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A couple of reports have come out recently that have looked at the prospects of unified communications (UC). The studies seem to indicate that enterprises are moving towards UC adoption on the whole to cut operating costs, and that this drive is also encouraging the uptake of cloud-based UC solutions.

First is the second annual Unified Communications Tracking Poll from technology vendor CDW, published in March 2010. It surveyed 915 IT professionals in the US with the responsibility for UC in business, government, healthcare and education. The full report can be found here. CDW found that of organizations it surveyed:

·         8% had fully implemented UC - steady from previous 2009;

·         67% had a business case or strategic plan for UC adoption - up from 55%;

·         58% have deployed unified messaging - up from 46%

·         45% have deployed presence technology - up from to 37%

Crucially, of the organizations that have fully implemented UC, 71% say that return on investment (ROI) has met or exceeded their expectations. Reducing operating costs was seen as the top benefit of UC (54%), followed by increased productivity (50%) and more reliable communication (44%).

"IT executives report that economic pressures were a greater concern in 2009 than in 2008, but for many, the return on investment from UC deployments is so compelling that they ask, 'Why wouldn't we do this?'" said Pat Scheckel, vice president of converged infrastructure solutions at CDW. "The result is reduced costs, increased productivity and improved decision making - benefits that resonate across every industry, especially in a recessionary economy."

Also in March, a new report from Frost and Sullivan looked at the adoption of cloud-based UC services in Europe. It says that the recessionary impact is convincing enterprises to look at new ways of deploying UC, and that cloud is emerging as a real contender. It finds that the cloud-based US market earned revenues of €46.9 million in 2009 and estimates this to reach €1.6 billion in 2014 - a growth rate of 79%.

Frost points out that the concept of hosted enterprise communications services has gained mainstream acceptance in recent years as modern communications have become increasingly more sophisticated. Additionally, during the economic downturn, rising costs and a fall in the availability of capital are favouring OPEX-based solutions.

"Down economy favouring OPEX-based solutions coupled with market's need for flexibility and focus on core competencies, all boost cloud-based UC services adoption," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Dorota Oviedo. "Both small businesses and large enterprises are interested in communications delivered as a service."

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.