UC Implementation Doubles Year over Year

Unified communications implementation rates doubled from 2010 to 2011, with 16 percent of organizations fully implemented today, according to new data released by CDW, a provider of technology products and services to business, government, education and healthcare, 

Meanwhile, 76 percent of organizations that have fully implemented UC and track return on investment (ROI) say  ROI has met or exceeded their expectations, up 5 percent since 2010, CDW reported in its third annual Unified Communications Tracking Poll, based on a survey of 900 IT professionals who work on unified communications (UC) or component technologies in business, government, healthcare, and education.

“Across industries, organizations are embracing ‘anytime, anyplace’ access to information to boost productivity. They also continue to look for opportunities to use budget dollars more effectively,” said Christine Holloway, vice president of converged infrastructure solutions at CDW. “Unified communications delivers on both of those objectives.”

UC is the convergence of enterprise voice, video, and data services and software applications to achieve greater collaboration among individuals or groups and improve business processes. UC component technologies include video, audio, and Web conferencing; presence; unified messaging; and instant messaging.

Respondents ranked increased employee productivity (53 percent) and reduced operating costs (48 percent) as the leading benefits of UC, noting that these results are most important to their organizations. Yet many IT professionals (41 percent) said they had difficulty securing budget to fund UC implementations, and 29 percent said they had trouble securing reliable cost projections.

Cloud computing may be one answer to IT professionals’ UC budget challenges. Among respondents who had fully implemented a UC solution in the cloud, 75 percent said cloud computing enabled faster UC deployment, and 65 percent said cloud computing made it more cost-effective to deploy UC. Only 18 percent of organizations using a cloud computing platform to deploy UC solutions said they were concerned about capital costs associated with UC, compared to 47 percent of organizations not using a cloud computing platform.

“The old adage ‘It takes money to make money’ often becomes ‘It takes money to save money’ in the IT environment,” said David Cottingham, senior director of managed and telecommunications services at CDW. “Organizations may struggle to identify funds for new implementations, even though the long-term cost savings and productivity improvements are significant. Cloud computing can help organizations deploy UC faster and at less expense, also reducing the time to positive ROI.”

This year’s survey found mobility needs could be driving UC adoption. Respondents said they especially value the on-the-go access features of UC, including access to work email and voicemail via smartphones and the ability to receive voicemail messages via email when away from the office. Among all respondents, the two most commonly deployed communications solutions are smartphones and mobile desktops (e.g., laptops or tablets), with 80 percent deploying each technology. While the majority said they experienced no challenges deploying UC on mobile platforms; about one-third reported difficulty. Respondents listed challenges, including information security, end-user training, and support for multiple platforms.

The CDW Unified Communications Tracking Poll also includes findings specific to each of the six industries surveyed. For example:

  • 20 percent of medium and large businesses say their UC solution is fully implemented, compared to 2 percent one year ago;
  • Among federal agencies, video conferencing is the top feature of UC, and continuity of operations is a top benefit;
  • In state and local government organizations, more effective use of mobile/remote workers is a top benefit of UC. Compared to other industry sectors, fewer state and local government organizations are evaluating or deploying UC via cloud computing;
  • Among healthcare organizations, more reliable communication is a top benefit of UC, enabled by features such as access to email and voicemail via smartphones, as well as instant messaging;
  • Higher education organizations cited distance learning as the top benefit of UC;
  • Among K-12 institutions, mass notification is a top benefit, and ability to send broadcast messages via email and phone is an essential feature.

For a copy of the complete CDW 2011 Unified Communications Tracking Poll, please visit http://www.cdw.com/uctrackingpoll.

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