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The Year in Review: Part 2
UC made considerable progress during the past 12 months and the stage is set for an even broader adoption of Unified Communications in the coming year.
In last week's issue of UC eWeekly, Jim Burton highlighted the major UC vendor actions and evolutions that occurred during 2008. This week I'll look at what happened from the customer perspective.There was considerable progress in 2008, part of which is reflected by the almost 10-fold increase in the number of UC case studies posted by the vendors. Here's where you can find many of them:
While many of these cases are about IP Telephony dressed up as Unified Communications solutions, you will still find a lot that's useful. There are UC-U (User Productivity) cases in which the enterprise runs faster with less effort (and lower cost) simply by providing better communications tools to its people -- well beyond upgrading to VoIP.
There also are UC-B (Business Process) cases where enterprises are changing how things are done, including product development (via conferencing and collaboration); production and logistics (via presence, IM, federation, mobility, conferencing); and customer services (via mobility, collaboration, transaction completion). In most of the UC-B cases, you will find software that is integrating the UC functions into the business processes, such as putting IM and "click-to-call" into the business application interface or such as automating the convening of a project team or problem solving group.
In addition to the rising number of successful deployments, there were three other notable trends. On the positive side, many customers were installing Unified Communications as overlays or add-ons to existing PBXs and e-mail systems.
Also, many of these were done as pilot projects that, if successful, could be readily extended, a trend that's likely to continue as the push for ROI becomes even more intense in 2009.
On another positive note, UC is increasingly a focus of Systems Integrators, which means customers are likely to have more pre-packaged solutions from which to choose. As the SIs gain experience, it also means that implementations are more likely to succeed.
It's too early how a third trend will pan out. Several suppliers, including Avaya and Cisco, have begun to bundle their UC product modules into the base IP PBX user license price. On the one hand, this could be really positive if it means that every new system sale will be justified by high-ROI UC applications with "free IP Telephony" included.
On the other hand, if this means that the whole migration to IP Telephony has to precede a UC application deployment, it's going to take longer to see the UC solutions from these providers actually get deployed.
Bottom line: UC made considerable progress during the past 12 months and the stage is set for an even broader adoption of Unified Communications in the coming year.UC made considerable progress during the past 12 months and the stage is set for an even broader adoption of Unified Communications in the coming year.