Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is General Manager and Program Co-Chair for Enterprise Connect, the leading conference/exhibition and online events brand in the...
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Eric Krapf | April 24, 2012 |


UC for Efficiency?

UC for Efficiency? You can gain efficiency by deploying UC features. You can also give users something that's almost as good as what they've been using for years at home.

You can gain efficiency by deploying UC features. You can also give users something that's almost as good as what they've been using for years at home.

Sonus Networks, the company that makes session border controllers and other edge-IP communications devices, came out with a study this week, claiming proof that, "A SIP-based Unified Communications infrastructure can improve productivity lost on inefficient communications by 23%, or 1.21 hours per employee per day." Various denizens of the enterprise-comms Twitterverse and online world in general have been debating this finding, but my reaction is: That's not really the point.

For as long as IP communications and UC have been around, people have talked about reducing "human latency" and making collaboration more efficient; and before that, it was the benefits of voice mail, and so on. The appeal of quantifying the inherently "soft" benefits of communications technology has been a siren song in the industry for decades.

But I really think that the issue now isn't, How much time can you save your employees with UC? The question is, How embarrassingly retro a communications experience do you want to force upon your users? Or, put another way, How quickly do you want to drive your end users into full BYOD mode?

I’ll add the usual caveat here, but I'll try to do it in a useful way, one that doesn't end with the phrase, "any time soon." The caveat is that if somebody's job is to sit at a desk and carry on voice conversations with other people, and possibly to create, enter, and retrieve data from a business software system using a PC as their input device, doing work that's generally based on those phone conversations--if that's your worker, then you have no problem that you need UC in order to solve. But if that's your worker, you're also not a candidate for the soft productivity benefits that UC can offer. So, you know, take the rest of the day off.

However, if your user is someone who has any choice at all about how they communicate with the people they need to communicate with in the course of their jobs, then this issue of UC productivity is for you. And those users have abundant choices of rich communications capabilities available to them at their fingertips today. Unfortunately, those features and functions reside on their cell phones, tablets, and other personal devices, not their corporate communications systems, for the most part.

So maybe adding UC to your enterprise network will save people an hour or more a day, and maybe that'll save you $13K per worker per year like Sonus says, and maybe your boss will be so impressed that she'll give you the rest of the day off.

But at minimum, UC features and functions are a defensive move, something you can offer your employees that will at least make them almost as efficient at doing their jobs as they are at doing whatever they use their cell phones for today, when they're on their own time.

Here's an experience I had recently: I was on a telephone-based briefing that was going to cover some very cool multimedia communications technology. We were having a little trouble getting the Internet-based technology demo working properly, so the person coordinating the demo needed to get me in touch with the help desk. We ran into a major technical obstacle: She didn’t know how to transfer the call from her desk phone extension to the help desk's. I couldn’t blame her; if you’ve worked with more than one kind of phone system in your career, did any two ever do that function the same way?

This all is more of a rant or a ramble, I guess, than an argument with a bottom line. But it's also a form of calling attention to something that I think is staring us in the face, and more importantly, is staring end users in the face: Legacy communications technology is so far removed from the communications technology that most people actually choose to use, that it's really in a class all by itself. And that's not meant to be a compliment.


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