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 | January 21, 2009 |


Lotusphere Message: Yes There Is a UC ROI

Lotusphere Message: Yes There Is a UC ROI Those are some pretty compelling numbers, if you believe them, so the question becomes, Should you believe them?

Those are some pretty compelling numbers, if you believe them, so the question becomes, Should you believe them?

The high point of the UC2 track here at Lotusphere was the keynote address from Bruce Morse and Akiba Saeedi, which featured some jokey Get Smart references and some demos, as you tend to expect from keynotes. But to me the real highlight of the address was the hard numbers that Bruce and Akiba put behind their claims that UC can, indeed, save an enterprise money.First they built a generic ROI case that posited a 5,000-employee deployment of Lotus Sametime, which they projected at an (undiscounted) cost of $450,000 for software, servers, administration and installation. They then claimed that if the more efficient communications of Sametime saved that group of employees 5 telephone calls a day, at 2 cents a minute and 4 minutes per call, the annual savings would be $480,000--so there's your payoff right there. If you have a deal where you're paying less than 2 cents, the savings of course would be less--but balancing that would be the consideration that the pricing represents no discounting.

They added further benefits: Avoiding international roaming would save $95,000 a year; eliminating a share of the hosted conferencing done through a service provider like WebEx (i.e., Cisco) would save $470,000 a year; converting 130 meetings a year, in which a meeting requires travel for 3 people, was estimated at $445,000; and integrating presence with the company website for customer self service was estimated to save $120,000 in contact center expenses, for a total annual savings of $1.6 million.

They followed up with a specific user case study, a German manufacturer that spent 173 euros over a 3-year period on its Sametime deployment. This broke down as follows:

* Software: 120K euros * Hardware: 5K euros * Services: 29K euros * IT and educatoin: 18K euros

According to Akiba and Bruce, over a three-year period, the company has reduced its costs in the categories mentioned above by 1,567 million euros over 3 years.

Those are some pretty compelling numbers, if you believe them, so the question becomes, Should you believe them? I do believe the numbers: I'm sure you eliminate phone calls when people have IM and related technologies; I know that companies are using softphones to handle calling on international travel, in order to avoid stiff cellular roaming fees; conferencing is being brought in house. The ones I just don't know about are travel and contact center.

In the case of travel, everything I've been hearing for the last several months is that videoconferencing is indeed being deployed for travel avoidance and is providing an ROI as such. Whether desktop video of the kind that Sametime offers will really result in travel avoidance, I'm not so sure.

And when it comes to contact centers, I just don't know if web-based self service is really that far along in many enterprises, that is, if many contact centers are really set up to leverage it for cost savings at this stage.

But you could leave out those last two and still have a very handsome ROI per the IBM Lotus case. The question is whether you need even the Sametime (or any vendor's) UC investment to capture those savings. If you've got an IP-PBX, you've got softphones, and you probably have some kind of a desktop client that could be used to eliminate domestic long distance. The WebEx savings may be another matter, and something that especially pleases IBM Lotus, for obvious competitive reasons.

Maybe the point is that Sametime or the other more advanced UC systems will get you the ROI while, in the process, also laying the groundwork for Communications Enabled Business Processes and other really significant progress in your communications environment--something that plain old IP telephony (POITS?) may not.Those are some pretty compelling numbers, if you believe them, so the question becomes, Should you believe them?


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