Collaboration Reality at EC12
What seems apparent is that UC deployment will take more time, and need to be fully integrated in business process.
You have heard many vendors and enterprises state they have implemented Unified Communications. Is it true? Well, that depends on the definitions used. I heard that when voice and data go over the same network, it is UC. Another definition equates UC as Unified Messaging, period. Still others combine voice and video as UC. UC is also supposed to include many forms of collaboration. The confusion and partial adoption of UC components was well described by Irwin Lazar in his EC12 presentation.
If you did not attend Irwin Lazar's presentation "Building a Unified Communications and Collaboration Roadmap" at Enterprise Connect, you missed a wealth of information. The presentation data is derived from a benchmark and is based on over 200 direct interviews of IT leaders performed by Nemertes.
One of Irwin's early comments was "The more ways we have to collaborate, the more confusing things have become." He went on to say that "collaboration tools should support the users, not the other way around. Success = use, not deployment".
Irwin had 146 slides. So this blog cannot properly cover all or even part of the presentation content. This blog focuses on the part of the Nemertes interview results that deal with UC implementation. The graph below lists the many forms or collaboration methods available. E-mail is the most prevalent, followed by in-person contact. It should be noted that that the UC tools significantly decrease in usage as you go down the list, therefore many enterprises that state they have UC implemented do not use the full complement of tools, yet they say they use UC. I cannot tell whether the enterprise has the UC function and does use it, or the UC function is not implemented. This means the actual penetration of the UC tool set is far less than the vendors want us to believe.
The second Nemertes chart from the presentation asked "What really matters" to the CEO. Note below that the two most important tools are e-mail and the phone call, the tried and true collaboration methods. All the other tools rate at about 50% or less. This suggests that CEOs may be reluctant to invest heavily in the other available tools. For all the hype about social networking, its value for investment is about 10% important to CEOs. Surprisingly, desktop and room based video are way down on the list. You would not know this if you experienced all the video vendors' exhibits at EC12.
What Really Matters
The third Nemertes chart, "What Are Companies Deploying?" presents the UC applications implemented. Voice calls and e-mail are assumed to be deployed. As could be expected, Instant Messaging (IM) is heavily deployed. Desktop video is slightly more than 57%. But Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) is low on the list with about 33%.
As with any data collection, statistical results can be interpreted many ways. These charts lead me to believe that the complexity of implementation may be viewed as risky and therefore there is not great enthusiasm to pursue the deployment of UC tools. Further, the more complex the tools, the greater the resistance to their use. This is a problem that many vendors strive to overcome.
Another factor is that not all the UC tools will benefit all the enterprise employees equally. The data entry clerks or the person entering medical billing codes will have very little use for the UC tool set. However, if the clerk is a teleworker, then conferencing tools and IM could be of use under teleworking conditions.
UC is supposed to improve productivity. If it does not improve productivity, then there is no ROI and no lower TCO. This is not to say UC is bound to fail. What seems apparent is that UC deployment will take more time, and need to be fully integrated in business process for some enterprises to move forward with the entire UC tool list.