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VoiceCon Orlando Takeaways

In the conference's concluding Locknote session in which I participated, Fred Knight asked the panel of analysts/consultants about our key takeaways from the conference. It was hard to decide between the many important topics and discussion points--including the growing role of video, collaboration and mobility, as well as the importance of presence and the work that remains in terms of federation and interoperability, and the many new product and partnership announcements made during the show.

All of these are important and deserve to be discussed, but my biggest takeaway was the notion that there is no one right way to do UC, and that companies need to think about the two main types of UC solutions and benefits: Those that focus on user productivity and those that focus on improving enterprise business processes. There are a variety of approaches and each end-user company will go about selecting and implementing UC products and solutions according to their needs, goals, existing infrastructure, business processes, etc.

My discussions with vendors and customers at VoiceCon confirmed my belief that the majority of companies start off on the road to focusing on User Productivity--integrating the various communication modes, while adding presence to the mix to enable click-to-call or click-to-communicate capabilities.

After trying this out for a while, many companies then move on to find other ways in which UC can be utilized within their organizations. This generally involves communication-enabling business processes. However, some companies understand the value of UC in optimizing their business processes and focus, from day one, on business process integration.

It's critical to recognize that there are essentially two types of UC solutions--one type provides benefits to individual users, and the other provides benefits to the enterprise as a whole. The team has defined two types of UC and benefits under the UC umbrella--UC-User Productivity (UC-UP) and UC-Business Process (UC-BP).

The personal productivity benefits of UC are important and help workers to be more efficient and effective at doing their jobs, in addition to providing increased worker satisfaction. During the VoiceCon User Forum, Mike Connelly, Vice President of IT/CIO, FranklinCovey, noted that users want to know "what's in it for me" when their company implements UC and changes the way they work. He stated that UC needs to provide value to end users and that in general they don't really care if you save the company lots of money; people want tools to help them do their jobs better.

While I agree with this assessment, it's important to recognize that the real ROI comes from linking UC to the company's business processes and enterprise goals. Early adopters of UC are transforming their businesses and, as a result, saving thousands or even millions of dollars. Business process integration and transformation deliver the real ROI and impact of UC. Personal productivity tools that provide users with better communications management, while nice, won't necessarily convince your CIO or CFO. Instead, enterprises need to look at how UC provides benefits to the enterprise as a whole, especially in terms of changes to the business processes that will reduce costs, increase sales and improve customer service.

There were many other takeaways from VoiceCon--so keep reading and for additional insights and analysis.

What do you think? If you attended VoiceCon, what were your main takeaways? And if you didn't attend, which approach to UC sounds most likely for your enterprise? Please send me your thoughts at [email protected] or post them in the VoiceCon Unified Communications eWeekly forum.