CompTIA Study: Unified Communications Technology Deterring Adoption

A new CompTIA study has found that the complexities of creating a unified communications technology strategy have led to low adoption rates. Learn how the cloud and managed services factor into UC.

Esther Shein

May 25, 2012

3 Min Read
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Collaboration, mobility and social networking are hot topics for enterprises, but the complexity of unified communications technology is contributing to low adoption rates, according to CompTIA's second annual Unified Communications and Collaboration Market Trends study.

The study of 500 business and IT executives focused on unified communications as a service. "You have companies that might be familiar with what many [communications] technologies are because they've been in news or use them in their personal lives, [and] they start to think this could be great if those types of things would be available for their business--and they would be," says Seth Robinson, director of technology analysis at CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association for IT professionals and companies. "But the reality is, getting everything established and talking together and getting users to actually use the tools in the way they're meant to be used is a tricky proposition."

Managed services and cloud-based delivery can help improve unified communications by removing some of that complexity, as well as bring perspective to what a business needs, Robinson says. Communications providers also know the questions to ask that will match tools with the business strategy, such as where a business needs to be and how to get there.

"They can suggest the right suite of tools that they're familiar with and manage and maintain them, and have a good understanding of how the tools can be incorporated in the business. Certainly, as companies have aging infrastructures and look to replace [equipment] the cloud has lot of benefit," he says, adding that goes for any other IT-related service.

Companies need to look at the unified communications benefits the cloud can provide and figure out whether going that route will cost them less, create more agility and give them more features. The challenge providers have is "to build a holistic platform that considers the various tools available and the best way to utilize them," according to the study. "By providing an integrated experience tied to business processes and then adding on education, the time for communications tools to become accepted can be shortened."

Next: Managed UC Services and Budget Considerations

In the final analysis, says Robinson, the decision to move to a managed service model "is really going to depend on how critical certain types of communication are to a business and if they need things to be very reliable." If they don't think they can get assurances from a cloud provider, they may opt to keep certain aspects of unified communications on-premises, while moving secondary services off-site.

That leads to a new trend toward a hybrid model of providers offering both on-premise and off-site services. Companies will likely choose to keep voice on-site, Robinson says, but may opt to move instant messaging to the cloud, since it may be something they're experimenting with and not heavily using. However, Robinson adds, there are companies that offer VoIP as a service, "so it comes down to cost equation, backup and other issues."

The study found that budgets for communications/collaboration are increasing because companies want workers to be more productive, which leads to some improvement in business metrics, and that there is an issue with end-user adoption. Among the reasons, says Robinson, are the learning curve and the fact that end users are going to use tools with which they're most familiar.

The most surprising finding from the study, he says, was the priorities people put on their communications goals. Usually, people cite improving cost savings and productivity as their typical goals, he says, but "what was surprising was that business metrics and business objectives were lower on the list of priorities. So the way we look at that is, companies are probably saying, 'We want these communications to help with productivity,' but really, they may want to shorten sales cycles or [achieve] better customer satisfaction."

Says Robinson, "To the extent that companies can make a more direct link with the communications strategy and end goal of the business metric or objective will help them see how to implement that business strategy."

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