No Jitter is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

In Tough Times, First Rearrange the Chairs

A lot of discussion about Unified Communications in these tough economic times is about whether organizations can still afford UC, or whether they can afford not to invest in UC because driving productivity and other efficiencies is even more important than ever before!This is a classic investment dilemma where your CFO's Gordian knot has to be cut by somehow simultaneously showing significant new cost savings and new business benefits. The reason this knot remains intractable for many is that it can be difficult to show real, concrete and immediate cost savings when only looking at user benefits--unless your organization has very good business process and productivity analytics.

The benefits are there--just hard to see. From my experience working with customers, equal focus needs to be placed on the "how" question: how is the communications infrastructure deployed and how can this be changed to squeeze out even more savings while enabling new UC applications?

So what does this mean in practice? One big area of cost for many organizations is that, unfortunately, there are often many disparate legacy systems scattered across smaller locations--which have high maintenance costs and are a pain to administer, often requiring local specialized people. They are also a major obstacle to UC deployment--because what CFO is really going to spend money right now trying to integrate new mobility, desktop call control, presence and Microsoft/IBM integration to a whole bunch of old legacy PBXs or key systems?

So here's the "good" news: In a time of downsizing and limited growth--you probably already have the "chairs" you need--the software licenses and existing phones which are now just sitting in cupboards at headquarters and larger, already-upgraded locations. By quickly redeploying these to replace legacy systems in smaller locations along with appropriate gateways, you finally "upgrade" these locations, move to lower cost centralized management, and potentially remove a percentage of local PSTN costs.

Even better, if your central communications system comes with mobility and UC capabilities, then these are now available for employees in the smaller locations, who are often the ones who are most customer-facing.

OK, so these are all the standard benefits of a consolidated IP telephony roll-out. But here's what's different now:

* If you are downsizing (and probably more so at HQ than customer facing smaller locations) then you now have the licenses and spare hardware--this does not have to be a major new purchase like in growth times.

* Changing systems always has training and adoption challenges for your people--but there is a much greater tolerance for change that saves money in these tough times. It's expenses versus jobs after all.

* Some vendors now include major UC functionality with their core communications upgrades--so you can achieve your UC objectives within what the CFO sees as a cost saving consolidation.

* Large enterprises may also appropriate relationships with vendors that give further flexibility in reapplying existing capabilities across locations, providing they are at current releases.

UC right now has to be about making money and saving money simultaneously--and you have to cut this knot with your CFO.

Start by counting your empty chairs.