May 2008, The Indian PC Magazine
Its been long since technology corridors have been abuzz with the promise
of Unified Communications. However, consumers are still clueless about its
practical impact. The Indian PC Magazine finds out how UC is about to
revolutionize your communication experience in next five years.
MULTIPLE MOBILE Connections, too many email ids, office landlines,
different web conference vendors and logins, Google talks and official
internal messengers!! Woof! If connectivity enhanced productivity in the
last decade, it is certain to land us into a mess in the coming one. When
Alcatel-Lucent recently surveyed about 2,000 users about work
communication, the findings revealed that 72% of those surveyed struggled
to find the contact details of people when in cases of emergency. While 56%
of these users preferred to have a single number for incoming messages and
calls, 38% were using at least five communication tools Emails, mobiles,
fixed lines, voicemails, IMs- You name them! And 20% said they received
more than 100 emails every day! Communication overload has become a reality
in every sense of the term. So in this mind-boggling communications
ecosphere, how does one simplify life? Well, for many, unified
communication is the answer!
UC: The User Perspective
Unified Communications perhaps has as many varied definitions as the
solutions. At the risk of oversimplification, Unified Communications is IP
telephony, voice mail, messaging, video conferencing et all bundled
together. Organization world over are turning towards UC for reducing
communication and operational costs and increased employee productivity.
Just to give an example, through implementing UC solutions in voice and web
conferencing in its own organization, BT has managed to reduce travel costs
by more than £135 million. Through conferencing services alone, it has
eliminated nearly 860,000 face-to face meetings.
Closer home, Marico discovered a brave new world of integrated
communications. The company, which has started using one of Microsoft's UC
products, sees the offering as a great enabler for its retail workforce on
the move. Says Girish Rao, Head of IT Solutions at Marico, about the
benefits of UC, "Employees can see the availability of their colleagues and
how best to contact them whether by using phone, email message, instant
messaging, or video conferencing." Marico has managed to reduce significant
travel costs for its engineers and IT professionals. In the words of Vinod
Kamath, Chief of Finance and IT, "The competitive advantage that it
(Unified Communications) provides comes in the form of messaging tools that
enable communication across multiple ven¬dors/ partners/ offices and
With rapidly growing networks and geographical presence, companies are
looking for solutions that can enable better communication and
collaboration among their stakeholders and simultaneously reduce the time
and cost on traveling of their employees for reviews and meetings.
IT Infrastructure and Unified Communications:
India, with its robust telecom infrastructure, favorable policies and
regulatory framework and high bandwidth connectivity is a ripe ground for
UC adoption in enterprises. UC can have a lot of relevance in telemarketing
setups where it can help create a single user environment. This would
ensure that all calls made to a call centre are attended by the right
person at the right time. UC can add significant value to an organization's
customer facing processes and enhance customer service and collections.
From an IT infrastructure perspective, unified communications can integrate
voice and email communications; which have hitherto been provided to
organizations by different vendors requiring a different set of hardware
Having a PC based unified communications suite helps you see if the person
who you are trying to reach out to is available or not. This application,
known as "Presence" is a remarkable feature of UC applications and can
easily be embedded in line of business applications. Through the UC
infrastructure, teams can work in real time and capitalize on business
opportunities. Calling or initiating a web conference with someone is just
a matter of clicking on someone's name! This is all the more relevant in
our times when the computers have become the primary mode of workplace
communications, overtaking telephony.
The UC revolution begins, now!
The road ahead
UC will go a long way in simplifying the productivity challenges that
multiple channels of communication present to individuals as well as
organizations. But would be the challenges in implementing UC suites in
organizations? Ranjan makes a very interesting point. "UC is a new area of
communication, so the challenge would be to drive usage. Also, UC guys have
expertise either in telephony or in software so companies will need to
upgrade their IT staff through training and competence development."
With UC, we would be talking about scenarios where users would be able to
technically publish only one contact number which could be tagged to their
office land line, residential phone as well as mobile.
We are talking of a time when a call received on your land line would be
automatically saved in your enterprise directory and all numbers accessible
from all devices irrespective of the device on which they were saved!