Unified Communications: A Mandate for the Enterprise
Unified Communications is a core element necessary for businesses to quickly adapt to the ever-changing marketplace. For enterprise technologists, it requires a new approach to the architecture.
Speed and flexibility are two of the greatest business differentiators in the global economy as products and services become commoditized. Enterprises must continually look for ways to lower costs, improve products and services, and deliver rapidly. Unified Communications is a core element necessary for businesses to quickly adapt to the ever-changing marketplace.
Unified Communications (UC) is defined as the integration of people, processes, information, and technology that enhances how people interact to exchange information and work together towards a common goal. A Unified Communications strategy is not just about adding high-definition video conferencing, supporting WebEx on an iPhone, or any other specific technology. A UC strategy embeds communication technology into every business process, coordinating the right people, and adding the appropriate contextual information to the communication.
Implementing UC is challenging due to its vast scope that covers many organizational silos, both within IT and across multiple business groups. Due to the inter-divisional nature of UC, quantifying the value, funding, implementation, and support must be done at the enterprise level. To ensure the successful implementation of UC, enterprises should create a communications architecture group, adopt SIP as a core standard, and start with point solutions that align with the long term UC vision.
Complete automation within an enterprise is possible--if nothing ever changes. However, since in the real world changes occur every second of the day, people must be involved. Communication and collaboration are required in order for people to effectively and efficiently work together. Unified Communications takes this one step further and integrates human communication with enterprise IT systems, resulting in improved business productivity, increased sales, and swift resolution of crises.
The Value of Unified Communications
Enterprises need to improve their Unified Communications capability in order to quickly adapt to the ever-changing global business environment. Enterprises that master Unified Communications will:
* Grow top line revenue by adapting to customer requirements
* Lower bottom line costs by improving productivity
* React quickly to opportunities and situations and resolve them in real-time.
The more things change, the greater the value of communication. In an ideal business setting, everything would be automated and nothing would change. But the reality of a global economy is that change occurs at a record pace, and businesses that do not keep up become causalities. Customer requirements and expectations, technology, supply chain, and political uprisings are examples of real-time changes that directly impact how a business operates and potentially succeeds.
Most businesses have ERP, CRM, SCM, and other enterprise IT systems that run the business. These systems all talk to each other using a message bus. There are also communication systems like telephony, email, chat, and conferencing used for people to communicate with each other. However, there is very little integration between the enterprise and communication systems. Unified Communication integrates people and systems.
Examples of Unified Communication opportunities within a business:
* Faster Sales Cycles: Customers increasingly ask for customized solutions that can be delivered quickly, at a competitive price. A customized solution is not part of a standard offering, so experts from engineering and manufacturing must collaborate to deliver the solution, and management must approve, to ensure that the transaction is in the best interest of the enterprise.
* Improved Customer Service: Using a company's website as the foundation for customer service. If this does not work, offering click-to-connect (call/chat/conference) to address unique and/or complex questions that cannot be handled by web self-service. The ability to free up the right resources in real-time to address service questions is critical to successful customer service.
* Real-Time Product Feedback Tracking social websites for information regarding a company and their products, and then gathering shared attributes: what people like and dislike, wish lists for improvements, etc.
* Better Crisis Management: Time is money, particularly when a crisis occurs. Whether it's a disrupted supply chain, halted plant production, or a critical IT system failure, the faster the appropriate people and information merge, the speedier the resolution.