Tech Trends: Moving Beyond VoIP To Unified Communications
By Brian Albright, Business Solutions magazine.
Customers need support to deploy new unified communications and other advanced solutions.
As the workforce has become more mobile and enterprises more complex and international in reach, companies have increased their use of unified communications (UC) solutions. These companies are looking for solutions that allow access to employees wherever they are working and to give those employees access to the full suite of communications tools from whatever device (telephone, mobile phone, laptop) they wish to use.
Unified communications solutions have expanded into almost every vertical and spurred the development of communicationenabled business processes (CEBP). "Basically, whenever you have an employee who is traveling, teleworking, or off-site a great deal of the time — be it at a customer location, a trading floor, a courtroom, or an operating room — you'll find that unified communications penetration is exponentially higher than in other industries," says David Byrd, executive VP of sales and marketing at Broadvox.
VARs need to have a keen understanding of what the value proposition of unified communications is to their clients. "Simply listing the savings and efficiencies unified communications creates/provides is not satisfactory," says Chris Meehan, managing partner at Novus. "Features of unified communications are going to be expected by a company's clients, vendors, and affiliates, so really the value is what it costs business to go without the features that unified communications provides."
Unified communication systems bring together multiple communication channels and allow users to access everything from whatever central point they choose. Presence applications allow users to know who in an organization is available to communicate and then choose how to communicate with them. Telepresence, meanwhile, leverages high-quality video and audio to provide a more realistic experience for videoconferencing and other applications. Often, these solutions also include chat features, collaboration, and even remote manipulation of robotic components.For VARs pitching these solutions, the value proposition has to be clearly stated for each customer. The primary benefit is a cost reduction by eliminating the need for in-person conferences (and travel), as well as reducing operating costs. "Unified communications is clearly a cost-saving solution over traditional systems, but the ability to add and integrate productivity enhancing features makes unified communications even more cost-effective," says Mike Storella, COO of snom technology. "The inherent promise of unified communications is to allow people to work better, more efficiently, and at a lower cost. That is a pretty powerful value proposition."