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UC Still a Priority for IT Pros, CDW Poll Finds

Unified communications is gaining momentum despite the weak economy, according to a new poll of IT professionals released Monday by VAR CDW Corp.

While only 6 percent of organizations report their UC deployments are complete, CDW’s Unified Communications Tracking Poll found 20 percent are implementing UC and 33 percent are planning for implementation. What’s more, 70 percent of organizations currently planning and implementing UC expect to complete their adoption within two years, despite the weak economy. And, 41 percent of respondents said they are assessing UC.

UC offers many potential benefits. Sixty-one percent of respondents identified increased productivity and 56 percent identified operating cost reductions as the most important benefits. Other benefits cited included more reliable communication (48 percent), improved cross-functional communication (44 percent) and more effective use of remote or mobile workers (41 percent).

Among the many possible approaches to UC, CDW’s tracking poll found rich media conferencing strategies are emerging as a dominant approach, with 39 percent of respondents reporting their organizations are choosing that approach over telephony-centric approaches (32 percent), e-mail-centric (18 percent) and IM and presence approaches (11 percent).

Because UC adoptions usually embrace entire organizations, the planning is intricate and the challenges can be many. The most common concerns among organizations planning for UC implementation are network security (45 percent), equipment and capital costs (44 percent) and operating costs (42 percent). However, CDW’s tracking poll shows that, with careful planning, many of those apprehensions ease once implementation begins: Organizations that have completed or begun their implementations report substantially lower levels of concern with those same issues (27 percent, 28 percent and 31 percent, respectively).

The CDW Unified Communications Tracking Poll also includes findings specific to each of the five industries surveyed. Medium-large businesses, for example, are most likely to have developed a business case or strategic plan for the adoption of UC (67 percent versus 52 percent of respondents from other surveyed industries) and are most likely to consider UC very important to the reduction of business travel (46 percent versus 30 percent), a common cost-cutting strategy in tight economic times.

Federal government organizations are most likely to consider the continuity of operations benefit of UC to be very important (43 percent versus 27 percent of respondents from other surveyed industries).

State and local government organizations are most likely to select an e-mail-centric approach to UC (27 percent versus 17 percent of respondents from other surveyed industries).

Health care organizations are most likely to select a telephony-centric approach to UC (38 percent versus 29 percent of respondents from other surveyed industries).

Larger higher education institutions with 8,000 students or more (49 percent) are more likely than smaller institutions (31 percent) to have developed a business case or strategic plan for the adoption of UC.

This survey, the first wave of CDW’s 2009 Unified Communications Tracking Poll, was conducted during November 2008. Responses were collected from 766 IT professionals who identified themselves as both familiar with unified communications and actively involved with related technologies. The sample includes at least 150 individuals from each of five segments: medium/large businesses, the federal government, state and local governments, higher education and health care. The margin of error for the total sample is ±3.5 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. The margin of error for each industry sample is ±8.0 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.


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