By Rob Magee, Country Manager, Datapoint.
You will no doubt be bombarded with marketing collateral at the moment about Unified Communications and how it can impact positively on your business. Datapoint has seen the uptake of solutions within the Unified Communication arena slow to date, but believe that economic, environmental, social and regulatory factors will drive businesses to exploring further. Not only that, it is in these four areas that most organisations will find a compelling driver for investing in Unified Communications.
Recent financial market conditions will have had significant impacts on most areas of all businesses. It is likely that most IT budgets will remain close to what was budgeted last year. It is unlikely, however, that IT strategies will remain as they were planned twelve to thirty six months ago. The continuous drive toward software based applications, often being run as managed service type solutions, allows organisations to phase the expense of technology implementations, whilst recognising the benefits immediately. The ability to bring in-house applications such as audio & web conferencing, presence and video collaboration drive huge efficiencies not just from a financial perspective, but also from an operational piece.
The continued media and corporate focus on green IT is also likely to affect the unified communications market in a positive manner. Vendors will continue to market solutions from this perspective, helping to reduce businesses’ carbon footprints. Video conferencing can be used instead of long-distance travel to meetings; whereas presence and unified messaging can help keep home workers connected, meaning less time is spent commuting. There is now a wide choice of high-end video conferencing solutions and these developments mean that there is now a feasible alternative for national, regional and global meetings. These solutions are now available to the desktop, meaning that the cost and hassle of setting up and delivering a video conference is now removed. Considering the current economic climate, businesses will be excited by the cost saving benefits from reduced travel.
Internet-based technologies such as Instant Messaging, Skype and social networking sites are becoming more widespread in the home. Demand from users will see that these technologies also have a role in the workplace and enterprises need to adapt to keep up with changing consumer trends. Despite initial worries about employee productivity, there are clear business benefits for using these technologies. Integrated contacts, presence and the sharing of information online will be high on enterprises’ IT agendas. The importance of maintaining good customer relations when business growth is struggling is equally important. In addition, working patterns are very definitely changing and employers are beginning to accommodate flexible working. In order to support home and remote working, a combination of mobility and unified communications solutions needs to be deployed to allow them to work effectively with colleagues in different locations. Consequently mobility is also likely to play a more vital role in this market.
The Irish and UK financial markets has seen recent regulatory action on the investigation into rumour spreading about leading financial institutions. As part of the investigation, The Irish Financial Regulator has asked stockbroking and trading houses to provide electronic and voice records dating back to the period in question. Financial institutions, and indeed all businesses, who are bound by regulatory compliance, need to insure that their employees are acting in the firms best interests. By deploying specific mobility applications, organisations can be sure that what is said (be that written or verbal) is captured, achieved and retrievable easily.
So quite where Unified Communications suits your business is uncertain. One thing that is certain, is that it will in the near future, if not already, impact on your business.
Maintel is a UK provider of tailored voice, data and mobile solutions for businesses nationwide.
Published: Wednesday, September 10, 2008
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