High-tech end users in large organizations are beginning to warm to the idea of unified communications, even as their IT managers generally don't believe their employees are very interested in UC, according to a survey of businesspeople released Monday.
The study, conducted by Market Tools for Siemens Enterprise Communications, found a split between IT and communications managers on one hand and their users. Nearly one in three end users interviewed in the study expressed strong interest in getting UC, while just 21% of IT managers realized there was such a high level of interest in UC among their users.
And, in companies that were not considering implementing UC, just 2% of IT staff thought there was much interest in UC. In large companies where UC is being implemented, two-thirds of the end-user base said their firms' UC effort was average at best.
However, the study found that more than half of the companies surveyed are actively installing UC applications, primarily because they believe UC implementation will result in increased productivity and business responsiveness.
"Even before the current economic events, enterprises were using UC in an effort to increase productivity, improve service levels and optimize business processes," said Marty Parker, principal, UniComm Consulting Now, in a statement. "Now, the urgency has risen. UC solutions can be implemented incrementally at the points of greatest return, making it a priority."
Reasons by IT staff for implementing UC in a down economy were the benefits of speeding business processes and improving customer satisfaction.
The chief fear expressed by companies ready to implement UC was that they would have to "rip and replace" existing UC components, because of "an all or nothing" requirement to installing UC.
However, Janyce Harper, North American VP of marketing for the Siemens unit, attempted to counter the fear by noting that suppliers are working to seamlessly integrate and upgrade users in a building block approach "so they can transform their communications at their own pace and according to their unique technology requirements." She noted that Siemens OpenScape UC Server and OpenScape UC Suite are designed to seamlessly operate in multivendor UC configurations.
A total of 506 US businesspeople split evenly between end users and IT staff were interviewed by market research firm Market Tools in the study.
Unified communications can be especially troubling for smaller businesses. To get maximum value from UC, small and midsize businesses must find ways of integrating UC into existing business processes to spur employee usage, but they can't risk overlooking the need for shrewd security and access policies. InformationWeek has compiled a report that takes a look at this topic. Download the report here (registration required).