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Your Users Are Ready for UC: How Will You Get Them on Board?

August 12, 2014

Those who wanted to get a glimpse into the past, present and future of unified communications (UC) got their wish this morning on day two of ITEPXO West 2014, taking place this week from Aug. 11-14 in Las Vegas. One of the kick-off breakouts this morning was titled “Unified Communications Market Update – What’s Happening and Why”, led by Phil Edholm of PKE Consulting LLC & UC

So what was one of the central messages Edholm wanted to get across to participants this morning? The fact that change is coming in the UC sector.

“UC is not a singularity of communications systems,” he said. “What we are actually seeing is just the opposite; we are seeing disunification coming. Huge changes are coming.”

No matter if we are talking about UC-U, defined as UC solutions for user productivity, or UC-B, defined as UC solutions for business processes, transformation is on the horizon. Let’s take a look at some of the key changes rocking the communications and collaboration space:

  • UC will be all about the user case and user experience moving forward
  • UC is “becoming part of the plumbing” for organizations, contended Edholm
  • For SMBs, there are more options than ever before for UC deployment, be it on-prem or hosted
  • The move to the subscription model is happening. “We’ve always had a 15 to 20 percent subscription model in this industry,” Edholm explained, but that number will surge.
  • Vendor shakeout and consolidation will transpire across the space
  • Multimedia is on the rise: users are searching for IM and presence technology everywhere but the applications are currently siloed
  • Video is taking off and Edholm argues we will see a “huge explosion in video soon”

Change is coming and UC is becoming exceedingly user-driven. But in spite of this, there is still a ways to go when it comes to UC adoption. In fact, according to an InformationWeek Survey shared by Edholm during this morning’s panel revealed that 30 percent of companies have no plans in place to adopt UC. One of the main reasons companies are reticent to adopt UC is that UC is not a utility purchase.

“Telephony is a utility purchase,” Edholm said. “People always had to buy a telephone system. But we as an industry do not sell value we sell a capability you have to have and we sell cost. UC has to compete with other investments of the IT organization.”

And that’s no small feat, especially when 90 to 95 percent of the IT budget is pre-allocated, with about 7 percent of the budget being discretionary. As such, when the decision surrounding UC comes up, many organizations nix the concept because of a lack of budget and fear they will not realize a return on investment.

But the antithesis is actually true, according to Edholm.

“The payback on UC is three to six months for companies,” he argued. “It has huge payoff we just don’t know how to sell it.”

Vendors need to remind customers of the hard and soft benefits associated with a UC deployment. In almost all cases, whether it’s UC-U or UC-B, an overarching benefit of UC is that it gives you back time—time with regards to revenue, productivity and go-to-market strategies. The industry needs to get better at sitting down with customers and helping them understand that. These vendors need to develop an ROI plan to prove that UC is not only achievable, but it’s also profitable.

Your potential users are ready for UC, as they are already using such capabilities. Edholm shared the following compelling statistics with attendees to prove the market readiness:

  • 25 billion SMS message are sent per day
  • 50 billion other messages are sent per day
  • Twitter boasts 190 million monthly users
  • Skype is becoming 50 percent of international voice; 40 percent of Skype traffic is video
  • Video is becoming a collaboration preference, outpacing email by 2016

“We are coming into the third phase of convergence,” Edholm explained, arguing that it’s all about the convergence of business processes today. 

So will your industry be part of the next UC movement?

For more on UC and where the market is headed, be sure to check back frequently at the ITEXPO news page for more recaps of the breakout sessions. 

Edited by Adam Brandt

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