Unified communications (UC) implementation rates doubled from 2010 to 2011 among the key verticals in the United States, and mobility may be to thank for that.
That’s according to new figures from value-added reseller CDW, which this week released its third annual UC Tracking Poll. The report surveyed 900 IT professionals who work on UC in the business, government, health care and education sectors. Feedback showed UC implementation rates doubled in the past year, with 16 percent of organizations fully relying on UC today. Respondents said they especially value the on-the-go access features of UC, including access to work email and voice mail via smartphones and the ability to receive voicemail messages via email when away from the office.
Meanwhile, of the companies that have fully implemented UC, 76 percent said their return on investment has met or exceeded their expectations – that’s up 5 percent since 2010. Respondents cited increased employee productivity and lower operating costs as the key benefits of UC. Still, many organizations continue to battle a weak economy; because of that, 41 percent of IT professionals had trouble convincing their executives to provide money for UC projects.
Cloud computing could help solve the financial dilemma. Among respondents who had fully implemented UC in the cloud, 75 percent said cloud computing enabled faster UC deployment, and 65 percent said cloud computing made UC deployments more cost-effective. Resellers should take note that only 18 percent of organizations using cloud computing for UC said they were concerned about capital costs associated with UC, compared to 47 percent of organizations not using a cloud computing platform.
“The old adage ‘It takes money to make money’ often becomes ‘It takes money to save money’ in the IT environment," said David Cottingham, senior director of managed and telecommunications services at CDW. “Organizations may struggle to identify funds for new implementations, even though the long-term cost savings and productivity improvements are significant. Cloud computing can help organizations deploy UC faster and at less expense – also reducing the time to positive ROI."
Some other key findings from the UC Tracking Poll:
- 20 percent of medium and large businesses say their UC solution is fully implemented, compared to 2 percent one year ago
- Among federal agencies, video conferencing is the top UC feature of UC
- In-state and local government agencies, more effective use of mobile/remote workers is a top UC benefit
- Among health care organizations, more reliable communication is a top UC benefit
- Higher education organizations said distance learning is the top UC benefit
- Among K-12 institutions, mass notification is a top benefit, and the ability to send broadcast messages via email and phone is an essential feature