What impact will Unified Communication have on my bottom line? This is one of the top questions faced by consultants when engaging with businesses today.
It is a known fact that the concept “Unified Communications and Collaboration” also known as UC&C, comes with various business benefits, with the biggest measurable one being cost reductions. Most of the articles I see today address how much companies can save by investing in new UC&C technologies, but Mark Fabbi, Vice President of Gartner Inc. warns that “Enterprises will waste $130 billion buying the wrong network technologies and services during the next five years”.
When unpacking this warning it clearly has a huge impact on a company’s bottom line if the technology decisions made today are not aligned with the company strategy. The support for open standards now becomes the defacto compliancy check when initiating the road to full enterprise convergence, with offerings that include unified voice, video, web conferencing, enterprise instant messaging, central information portals, mobility solutions and many more.
In South Africa we also need to take note of our current bandwidth restrictions that apply with various technology offerings and the associated costs for these options. These restrictions will dissipate with time as more and more investment enters the private sector and we see fixed and mobile operators competing to deliver similar guaranteed services levels between connecting points at more reasonable prices. However, this does not mean that enterprise cannot make use of current technologies and gain some benefits from converged infrastructure methodology.
So why is unified communications so reliant on converged infrastructure? The simple answer is information access and rapid delivery of new services. To deliver a simplistic application where users can communicate with other enterprise communities and share information securely on demand from anywhere in the world, is only possible with a unified infrastructure that can be automated to respond to changes and requests made in real-time.
This does mean that when an organisation evaluates unified communications as a strategy, that vision might be delayed based on the current infrastructure readiness and the time it might take to migrate into a converged infrastructure. This process of prioritisation on the type of services being activated at what stage and how it takes the organisation to reach full UC&C maturity is a journey which can be very painful for both the business and users of the environment if not planned properly.
The industry offers various consultants that can help companies on this journey and acts as guides through the maze of possible pitfalls and brick walls. Companies should make use of these consultants even if it is only to verify their thought process and make sure that their vision and strategy is achievable in the desired timeframes. This planning process will impact the bottom line in a positive way by avoiding reworking solutions, incorrect technology decisions and unplanned downtime. Choosing the right UC&C partner to determine the most efficient route and to integrate the various elements of your solution is central to a successful implementation of this strategy.
In conclusion, UC&C can deliver demonstrable business value to corporations of all types and sizes. Benefits include lowering costs, improving productivity and strengthening customer relationships. Working with experienced services professionals enables organisations to develop a UC&C implementation plan that maps to their strategy and vision.
By Rudie Raath, Technology Consulting Country Leader for HP South Africa