VOSS Solutions

What are the tangible benefits of adopting UC?

Christopher May, VP Business Development, VOSS

It's no secret that unified communications (UC) is revolutionizing the way enterprises are able to conduct business both internally and externally, with a resultant increase in productivity to rival that of the introduction of the internet. The UC industry continues to be molded and transformed by a steady advancement in communications technologies. With such unprecedented industry growth, how can we measure the specific milestones of increased efficiency for enterprises that adopt UC?

Michael Finneran of dBRN Associates, a highly published business communications researcher, recently released his annual State of UC Market Survey via InformationWeek.com. The data was collected from "business technology decision-makers at North American companies" who responded to the Information Week survey.

The future is bright for UC technologies. Here are some State of UC highlights, and how VOSS supports these hot themes of the UC industry:

UC adoption

In 2014, 70% of the 488 survey respondents have – or plan to put – a UC system in place. 34% of respondents will roll out UC capabilities to 76% or more of their user base.

VOSS offers organization the ability to add UC applications and services faster and with lower cost than any other management system, or manual process. Although not covered by this research, it's well understood that adding a full suite of UC services is non-trivial. There's a relatively steep learning curve for staff to install these new services onto an existing platform (brownfield) and integrate them with the corporate IT systems. In many cases the decision to move to UC triggers a complete upgrade in the communications platform (greenfield); or vice versa.

The VOSS UC migration solution is widely used by both brownfield and greenfield UC deployment models. In both cases, VOSS's ability to provide a standardized workflow process, with intuitive data management, enables existing staff to implement UC faster and at a lower implementation cost.

Cloud-based UC

Despite increased interest in the cloud, 64% of UC deployments are either all on-premise (40%) or primarily premise-based (24%). Only 3% of business respondents are 100% deployed to the cloud.

While VOSS is the leader in cloud communication management, it also provides on-premise management. VOSS recognizes that cloud-based UC isn't a deployment model that organizations will want to adopt as a "big bang". So we have also developed a UC management capability for hybrid UC environments. VOSS is the only management system today that can cater for a hybrid cloud solution, giving enterprises the 'best of both worlds'. By accessing next generation UC applications from the cloud while retaining an on-premise UC system, VOSS can provide central management of both environments from a single point of control.

Equipment

Just 30% of companies surveyed provide desk phones for the large majority (76-100%) of their employees. 14% of companies have no desk phones at all.

VOSS has long been aware of the slow demise of the desk phone, but while the move to soft phones, mobility devices and smart clients may reduce the cost of a desk phone, the complexity of the device provisioning hasn't gone away with the newer clients – quite the opposite. In many cases (although not explored in this Information Weekly research) users are now operating multiple devices. This increases the need for multi-device management, extension mobility management and features such as single number reach

Business drivers

62% of respondents say that improved employee collaboration is a top business driver for adopting UC. 37% were motivated by the opportunity to create a more mobile workforce, while 30% were attracted to UC by the potential for improved communications with customers.

With unified communications, true productivity gains come from high adoption rates and adoption rates are shown to be higher when services are able to be customized to the individual user or groups of users. VOSS has the industry's leading service management capability and business portals for end users that have far richer capabilities in terms of customization than any other management platform.

Rather than giving every employee the same services, with a common set of "dumbed-down" features and settings, adopt the rich service management capability of VOSS Solutions … and your end user adoption rates will rise and enterprise productivity from UC will follow.

ROI

Of all survey respondents, 54% say the UC brings improved employee collaboration. 52%, 40%, and 36% said that adoption of UC provides better employee productivity and job satisfaction, travel cost savings, and improved customer communications, respectively.

Any measure of return on investment benefits from lowering the initial capital cost and increasing the revenue from productivity increases. However, when you look at the total cost of ownership over say 5 years, it is in fact the operating costs of your new UC platform that has the highest cost contribution. Any UC investment can therefore achieve a far greater ROI, if an investment in UC Management is also made at the same time.

VOSS Solutions provide a higher return on investment because it supports the full lifecycle of your UC investment:

  1. Lowering deployment costs (lowering investment)
  2. Lowering operating costs (the highest impact)
  3. Improving end-user adoption through higher levels of richness and customization

VOSS firmly believes – and has independent research to prove – that there are significant cost benefits to be had. Try our benefits calculator to find out more about savings that you could make by introducing UC management, to build a business case for UC adoption, so that you can start benefiting from all that UC has to offer.

Most beneficial features

When asked what UC features were most beneficial to their businesses, 36% of respondents name Unified Messaging, 30% IM and chat, 22% corporate directory, and 21% enjoying web conferencing.

VOSS supports the full range of UC applications and because it leads the UC management industry, you are assured of a continued level of support for any future developments.

Another value that VOSS brings to enterprises is 100% feature parity, which means that we support each and every UC feature and setting available in the UC applications, and ensure the fast support for new versions and features as they come to market. Employees are therefore able to access the very latest versions of their preferred collaboration tools, guaranteeing end user satisfaction.

Top barriers to UC adoption

22% of companies surveyed say there are no barriers to full UC adoption, while 15% say that business drivers are insufficient to justify the investment of a full UC suite. 22% of respondents felt that their end users not being trained to use the technology (14%) or the fact that end users have adopted consumer workarounds (8%) were top barriers to UC adoption. A small 8% of surveyed companies felt that critical business aps are incompatible.

Low levels of UC adoption is a killer for any organization. The irony of course is that user adoption of consumer products such as smart phones is through the roof, so it's not possible to blame the users. Users, for whatever reason, make a value judgment on the personal benefit to adopting a technology: "does it make my job easier?" If the answer is yes, then they will adopt it; if not, then you are not going to be able to force them.

Take something like Single Number Reach – great solution, but many users quickly tire of it: "just call me on my cell number". But SNR is actually of benefit to the company – you want to always present the calling number as the corporate number, not a personal number. There are many similar examples, where corporate benefit clashes with user adoption.

The answer is not extra IT policies to force users. The answer is UC automation, where features such as CLID are automatically implemented for the user, with predefined settings that match a set of custom business rules. When a user adds a new personal device, that device is automatically assigned a remote profile and even if the user doesn’t want to have SNR, any call from that device on the corporate network will have the correct CLID assigned.

This completely takes the issue of UC adoption rates off the table and is only available from VOSS.

Top UC vendors

The top UC vendors for 2014 are as follows: 73% Cisco (down from 83% in 2013), 48% Microsoft (up from 47% in 2013), and 38% Avaya (down from 47% in 2013).

It is interesting to note that this total adds up to close to 160% which shows that a large number of UC environments are multi-vendor. The decision to go multi-vendor is obvious; companies generally select best of breed technologies. Interoperating and integrating a multi-vendor environment can be a big challenge for organizations, but with a multi-vendor UC management layer like VOSS in place, all UC applications and services can be centrally managed from a single portal, with a common process, regardless of the vendor.

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