When it comes to understanding the value of unified communications, numbers tell a compelling story. Ninety-three, for example, is the percentage of companies that have realized business benefits from UC deployments, according to a recent survey from PwC in the U.K.
Better collaboration was the number one benefit companies reported, and more than half said their employees had better morale post-UC deployment.
IT pros looking to pitch UC to their organizations should bear in mind that productivity benefits are more meaningful when they are measurable. As Reuben Yonatan points out in his blog on small business trends, the ability to contact employees in real-time is a significant productivity boost, and one that can be measured. “Recent studies have shown that 49% of businesses are able to gain 20 minutes of productivity for each employee that they are able to reach on the first try.” Those “bottom line-oriented benefits” that come in the form of productivity gains and operational savings are what’s driving the uptake of UC, stated PwC in its report. Why then, aren’t more companies taking the UC plunge? It may have less to do with the technology and more to do with the network it depends on. Turns out many corporate networks aren’t capable of supporting a bandwidth-hungry hog such as unified communications and collaboration. Less than a third of organizations’ wide area network infrastructure is currently able to fully support UC technology across all sites, according to a recent study cited by Computerworld UK’s Antony Savvas. “Almost half of enterprises surveyed said they would require network upgrades at some of their locations to fully benefit from the technology,” wrote Savvas in a recent column. The least prepared among survey respondents were companies in the manufacturing and banking/financial sectors; only about 20% were considered UC-ready. Not surprisingly, about 40% of companies in telecom/IT and business/consumer services had networks geared to take advantage of UC’s full functionality. Inadequate networks might explain why more than half of those who tuned into a recent UC webinar either haven’t deployed UC or have only partially implemented it in their organizations. But the reason could have more to do with the increasing pressure on CIOs to prove the value of their IT investments, said industry analyst Blane Pleasant during the webinar. Not long ago, CIOs were content to see a three-to-five-year payback on significant IT investments, but that timeframe has been squeezed, and IT departments are being charged to prove the business benefits much sooner. “Now it’s an 18-24 month (payback) period,” said Pleasant. “They don’t want to tie up capital when technology is shifting so quickly.” When companies realize that UC can deliver quick wins, it strengthens the business case, said Pleasant. She referred to a global bike parts manufacturer that adopted UC with the goal of encouraging better collaboration between sales and support. It worked; the company increased its sales 20% in the first year. Pleasant said many adopters report similar positive numbers. “UC helped these companies improve worker productivity by better sharing of information. They all say UC has improved their bottom lines.”