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Will UC Cut Costs?
As I mentioned below, Gartner has a new report out in which they surveyed 300 organizations and reached the conclusion that Unified Communications' value is in increasing "business agility," rather than in saving money. That was based on actual experiences of early adopters.
As I mentioned below, Gartner has a new report out in which they surveyed 300 organizations and reached the conclusion that Unified Communications' value is in increasing "business agility," rather than in saving money. That was based on actual experiences of early adopters.The disconnect came when Gartner checked on expectations of those who hadn't yet deployed UC. "By contrast, lower total cost of ownership and lower equipment costs were the top two expectations of UC among companies that have yet to deploy it," the company reported. The release went on to quote Gartner research VP Steve Blood as saying, "It is evident that there is a significant difference between the expectations of UC and its actual benefits. We recommend that organizations build a business case based on enabling mobility and agility rather than on reducing IT department costs."
That jibes with what the UCStrategies.com folks say: The big money is in time to market, time to sales, improved business processes in whatever form it takes. Hardly anybody seems to be buying the time-savings-equals-money-savings argument any more.
So we seem to have the classic "aspirational/perspirational" divide, to borrow a term from Chris Thompson of Cisco. And the question is, during a recession, will an enterprise allow itself the aspirational spending for improved business processes, or will it grab for that low-hanging fruit in the form of maintenance/service/support costs, conferencing and international toll savings, that basic IP-telephony offers?
The latter option so often tends to get positioned as a kind of failure--a failure of imagination, or will, or ambition. But there's no reason that "aspirational" spending shouldn't be a harder sell in bad economic times, especially when the "perspirational" deployments will not only save money now, but can lay the groundwork for the aspirational gains in the near- to mid-term future.
Another critical part of achieving those gains, however, is organizational issues. I addressed this in a blog post last week, and Gartner highlights it as well. In fact, the market research firm goes as far as to say that, "more than 80 per cent of appropriate organizational changes, including procedures, policies and compensation, will lag behind technological change through 2011. For example, many IT departments will continue to be organized separately around voice, networking and mobility, and some may not even have control of mobile budget." Adds Steve Blood: "Nowhere is the effect of this organizational lag more apparent than in how the convergence of voice, data and applications is affecting organizations."
A lot of things are going to slow down the effective deployment of Unified Communications. One is the purchasing environment and the business case issues. This organizational challenge is another one. Not surprisingly, this was the case with basic IP telephony infrastructure as well. We're hearing some indications that enterprises are engaging on the organizational issues of UC, but the challenge is even more complex than the basic voice-data bifurcation that had to be dealt with a couple of years ago, when voice over IP first emerged.
So enterprises should begin to explore Unified Communications now, even if they don't intend to buy right away. Such engagement is critical if enterprise IT departments are to understand their own members' roles in deploying and managing the technology whenever we do end up making the transition from perspiration to aspiration.