Top Five Reasons to Implement Unified Communications Now

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1 Top Five Reasons to Implement Unified Communications Now August 2013 Prepared by: Zeus Kerravala

2 Top Five Reasons to Implement Unified Communications Now by Zeus Kerravala August 2013 º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º Introduction: UC Is a Transformative Technology The value proposition of unified communications (UC) is multidimensional. UC empowers workers to streamline the collaborative process, raises productivity, enables coworkers to collaborate in real time with partners, customers and suppliers across the globe (see Exhibit 1), and significantly reduces costs. ZK Research A Division of Kerravala Consulting UC brings communications and collaboration tools together in one interface, removing much of the human latency from switching between applications and devices. UC is also in transition as a platform for new communications-enabled applications with integrated UC, streamlining and transforming processes a key to sustainable competitive advantage. Exhibit 1: The Collaboration Needs of the Extended Enterprise Cell: Office: Influence and insight through social media The high value and transformational nature of UC should make it a top initiative for any company seriously committed to operational excellence and competitive differentiation. However, Exhibit 2 shows that most organizations have partially deployed UC, but full usage remains in the minority. The reason for this gap centers on the challenge of deploying the technology to maximize value. Studies by ZK Research reveal that 38 percent of organizations cite unclear ROI as the top barrier to employing UC more broadly. A clear understanding of the right use cases for UC shows ROI is rapid and warrants aggressive deployment. This paper highlights the top five reasons to implement UC, and provides a guide to selecting the best solution provider.

3 Exhibit 2: UC Is Deployed Widely, But Not Deeply Section II: The Top Five Reasons to Invest in UC Now Some enterprises justify the purchase of UC on costsavings initiatives; others see it as a strategic enabler of new processes. Based on ongoing research, we have uncovered five clear benefits of UC that warrant its strong consideration and use. 1. Enable Anywhere Workers Years ago, the majority of employees came into large office buildings and collaborated with their peers within the same location. This has obviously changed, as more work in branch offices, home offices, or on the road. According to ZK Research, only 27 percent of employees today work at the main headquarters location, with the rest considered anywhere workers. Competitive advantage rests on an organization s ability to make the best possible decision in as short a time as possible, with input from the best people whether in the main location, a branch office or telecommuting. Harnessing the knowledge of the anywhere worker has historically been a challenge, as the tools workers use often vary greatly from location to location. UC aggregates all of a worker s communications and collaborative applications in a single desktop or mobile application (see Exhibit 3). This ensures all workers home office, branch office, home worker or remote worker have a consistent set of communications tools. This is critical for maximizing the productivity of anywhere workers and neutralizing the phrase, I ll take care of this when I m back in this office.

4 Exhibit 3: UC Brings Together Collaborative Applications 2. Enable Virtual Teams to Succeed and Thrive Competitive advantage is based on an organization s ability to harness the power of its workers to make the best possible decisions as fast as possible. Companies that consistently reach the right decisions faster have a significant advantage over organizations that cannot. As a result, many companies rapidly assemble virtual teams for specific projects. These teams can include people from all global regions, with varied skill sets and knowledge bases. They must be brought together, work effectively and make decisions quickly. Just as quickly, the virtual teams may be disbanded and individuals assigned to the next virtual team. Legacy communication tools make this difficult, as workers may have different tools depending on location or system. It s common to have a virtual meeting where some workers access by video, others connect through voice only, while others use a Web-sharing tool. Inconsistency of collaboration tools can hamper virtual teams and make them less effective, as some high-value team members may be able to contribute in only a limited way. UC delivers a consistent collaborative experience across virtual teams and, when combined with best practices, can empower them to succeed and thrive. This brings the productivity levels of virtual teams to new heights. 3. Allow Organizations to Embrace and Integrate Social Networking UC is a continually evolving market made of foundational, legacy and emerging UC elements. Social networking is the latest emerging UC element, and promises to allow workers to communicate in new ways. Social tools enable users to create personalized groups based on projects or interests. While social networking has been rising in popularity with younger workers, businesses have used social tools primarily for marketing purposes. Businesses must understand that social media is no longer just for generating leads (see Exhibit 4).

5 Exhibit 4: The Benefits of Integrating UC and Social Companies that integrate social tools with UC will realize the following benefits: Faster innovation: Social media can provide insight and context for new products and services. It allows companies to engage with customers in new ways, and faster, near-real time feedback, shortening development time. Enhanced corporate collaboration: Integration of social and UC lets companies combine location and presence data with social information to identify experts quickly, and engage them immediately. Integration can also automate processes and initiate communications with event-based triggers. Improved contact center processes: Social tools can help contact centers track and monitor customer feedback for a personalized, consistent customer experience. Integration of social and UC allows data to be analyzed and filtered, and directed to subject matter experts. Augmented marketing initiatives: Social tools can help companies use UC to engage customers at the right time with the right message. Integration of UC and social media enables marketing professionals to get realtime feedback, and brings collaborative teams together to sharpen marketing messages. 4. Meet Today s Employee Expectations Attracting and retaining top talent is a key for maintaining competitive advantage. Workers are attracted to companies that give them the best chance of being successful and thriving professionally. This means providing the best possible set of tools for corporate workers. Years ago, a worker s toolkit was limited to corporate-issued laptops, mobile devices and applications. The devices and applications a user had at the office were generally superior to anything one might have at home. Today the environment has completely changed. The concept of bring-yourown-device (BYOD) is now the norm for most companies. In fact, a ZK Research study finds 82 percent of CIOs now support BYOD in their organizations (see Exhibit 5) a stark contrast from just a few years ago. Teammates want to use their personal devices in the workplace, and it s up to IT departments to develop a robust BYOD strategy to meet changing employee expectations.

6 Exhibit 5: CIOs Support BYOD However, a successful BYOD implementation should be about more than just the process of on-boarding consumer devices. Smart phones and tablets offer a rich experience and can be great devices to augment the current collaboration toolkit. Mobile UC gives workers the ability to collaborate through a rich interface, with an experience similar to what they are accustomed to on their desktops. Any organization considering implementing BYOD should make UC a core part of the decision, as it will help align IT strategy and company strategy. Additionally, top UC solutions allow users to do selfservice for administrative tasks such as moving phones, resetting passwords or minor configuration changes. The concept of self-service is well embraced, and enables workers to make changes they want without having to call the help desk. 5. Get Cost Savings While much of the value of UC comes from improving worker productivity and developing communications-centric business processes, cost savings from UC can be significant. UC can deliver savings from multiple sources, such as: Long distance charges: With a UC solution, on-net long-distance calls are free. Through least-cost routing, off-net calls can be directed to the lowest-cost egress point, significantly reducing international calling costs. Conferencing expenses: UC suites can bring in audio, video and Web conferencing services, eliminating the cost of third-party providers. Trunking costs: UC solutions leverage Session-Initiated Protocol (SIP) to enable communications. Most service providers today offer lower-cost SIP trunks, which can be consolidated at a few central locations, rather than having each office maintain its own trunks. Organizations can reduce trunking costs by as much as 90 percent, depending on the number of trunks and the distributed nature of the environment. System maintenance costs: Most leading UC solutions are software-based and can be centrally managed. This means reduction of spare components, faster upgrades and lower cost of day-to-day maintenance. Moves, ads and changes (MACs): Legacy systems carry a huge premium when it comes to MACs. ZK Research finds that the cost of a MAC with a legacy system can be in the order of $300 per user. IP-based UC solutions using a self-service model effectively bring this $300- per-mac cost to zero. Mobility: Companies that implement Wi-Fi calling can offload cellular minutes to the corporate Wi-Fi network. This can save users that travel internationally thousands of dollars per month in roaming charges. Also, through unified messaging, workers can download voic s directly to their mobile phone in-box and listen to the message without calling into the company phone system, saving even more money.

7 Section III: What to Look for in a Solution Provider UC deployment is a significant evolutionary step towards building a more agile, collaborative enterprise. UC can lower the overall cost of communications, improve worker productivity, streamline business processes and create greater IT agility. However, the choice of a UC solution provider may not be obvious. ZK Research recommends that your UC service provider have these qualities: Global market leader: A successful UC deployment takes more than great technology. Once the technology is in place, the cost savings and productivity benefits are realized through worker training and process change. Choose a partner with a broad customer base in every region of the globe. This type of partner will have the best practices developed to fully leverage the capabilities of UC. A global leader will also have the necessary channel partners and services personnel to ensure the deployment will go smoothly no matter where corporate workers are. Leadership backed up by third-party recognition: Leadership is something that must be earned over a long period of time. IT organizations should seek out a solution provider with a long history of innovation, proven by a track record of patents and industry firsts. Also, third-party industry recognition from analyst firms, media outlets and trade shows awards indicate a solution provider is viewed as a leader by a wide group of constituents. Flexible migration and deployment options: When it comes to deploying UC, there is no single, right way to deploy. Some organizations are aggressive, others passive. Some may want to leverage existing technology as long as possible where others may choose a rip-andreplace tactic. Choose a solution provider that can help transition to UC at a pace and budget the company is comfortable with. Additionally, look for solutions built on open industry standards, to ensure the broadest integration with a wider number of UC ecosystem partners, thereby adding more flexibility in the future. Broad range of services: Managing UC can prove challenging to some organizations due to the disparate nature of applications within some solutions. Almost every organization will excel in certain areas of UC management and struggle with other tasks. Choose a service provider with a broad set of managed, professional and maintenance services. This allows IT to manage to its strengths and augment the skill sets of internal employees with those of the solution provider. Because of the diversity of management tasks, it s critical the solution provider can deliver any kind of service from simple maintenance to fully managed services, to professional services that can help with planning and design. Strong vision: The UC industry is constantly evolving, with new technologies emerging all the time. Look for a solution provider that leverages the latest technology trends to deliver a fully integrated communications solution. It should unify communications tools, simplify the user experience and integrate communications directly into the fabric of the business. Technology can help save money, but vision and realization of that vision is what can significantly improve business productivity.

8 Conclusion and Recommendations UC has the power to change the way people work, streamline business processes and raise corporate productivity to new heights, all at a dramatically lower cost than traditional communications. However, to maximize the value of UC, organizations need to understand the best ways to leverage the technology today and into the future. To help organizations get started with a UC deployment, ZK Research recommends the following: Start deploying UC now: UC is a critical component of IT agility and improved business collaboration. Organizations that leverage UC today will find themselves with capabilities and processes that competitors may not have. The business environment has changed over the past five years and communications tools need to change along with it. The time for UC is now. Think of UC as a platform, not a product: When evaluating UC solutions, many customers look only at specific desktop and telephony functions. However, UC should be thought of as an architectural platform to build on. IT departments should look at advanced UC architecture components, integration structure, software communities and other criteria. The decision is similar to choosing an IT application platform vendor. Modify business process to take advantage of new features: UC deployments are most effective when business processes are streamlined to leverage new communications tools. At a minimum, most human latency can be removed from existing processes. Ideally, IT departments should work with line-of-business managers to rebuild processes with UC in mind. : A Division of Kerravala Consulting All rights reserved. Reproduction or redistribution in any form without the express prior permission of ZK Research is expressly prohibited. For questions, comments or further information,

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