Unified Communications

02:16 PM
Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf
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UC Integration, ROI, And Direction

You've got to position yourself to capture the ROI that you say you're going to deliver with UC.

I've been reviewing slides for VoiceCon Orlando, which is always intense. One that's just loaded with great information is the Nemertes Research tutorial on business cases for IP telephony and UC.Robin Gareiss and Irwin Lazar of Nemertes delivered this tutorial for the first time in San Francisco late last year, and it was a big hit, so they've agreed to bring it to Orlando.

Among the wealth of information from Nemertes' survey of its end user client base, there were some telling perspectives about where unified communications is falling short. When Nemertes asked that very question: "What is lacking in the UC market?", by far the largest response, at 58%, was "Integration." Next-highest, at 22%, was "Solutions."

Clearly, enterprises understand the potential complexity of unified communications, and believe that complexity isn't being adequately addressed today. And there's definitely a need for it to be addressed, based on the responses to another question Nemertes asked. When Nemertes asked whether the user's VoIP vendor would also be its UC vendor, the majority answered no, by a margin of almost 58% to 42%.

So not only is there a need for integration within the various capabilities underneath the UC umbrella, but there also will be a need to make sure that UC applications run seamlessly on VoIP infrastructures that may come from a different vendor than the manufacturer of the UC systems.

And getting directly to the question of why enterprises haven't implemented UC ("What is holding you back from UCC implementation?" where UCC stands for Unified Communications and Collaboration), Nemertes finds some answers that may be difficult to overcome in a tough economy. The top response, at 24.5%, is "No demand." A similar answer, "No need," garners another 5.7% of responses. Doesn't get much more discouraging than that. The next response, at 18.9%, is "Cost," which likewise isn't readily alleviated in this environment.

In general, the ROI picture from this survey -- or at least the customers' perception of ROI -- isn't encouraging. Some 68% said they haven't determined quantitative benefits from implementing collaboration, echoing 11.3% of respondents to the previously discussed question who said they were being held back from UC implementation by "Lack of ROI."

Nemertes has put together some compelling case studies and some discussion points that may be able to sway people. And the benefit everyone can get out of this tutorial, regardless of their position in the procurement cycle, is in the connection between the first point I raised above -- integration -- and the second point, ROI.

It gets back to the point I made last week in writing about my interview with another analyst group, Forrester Research: You've got to position yourself to capture the ROI that you say you're going to deliver with UC technology implementation. That means understanding the integration challenge up front, and having a plan to overcome it, so that UC doesn't wind up like ERP or other previous black holes of software implementation.

One key recommendation that Irwin makes in his slides (and has made in his No Jitter blog) is to have a "UC Director," someone tasked with overseeing UC for the organization. I'm sure that the scope of this role will vary from company to company -- he or she may be more of a coordinator or liaison here, more of a technology guru there, or may have a more formal role like CIO in other organizations. Whichever it winds up being, it's worth thinking about who will fill this role in your enterprise.You've got to position yourself to capture the ROI that you say you're going to deliver with UC.

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