Unified Communications (UC) is the new buzz word with a vision to simplifying and integrating all forms of communications. Everyone will have simply one number to reach you despite having one or more possible number of combinations. Everyone will send or receive message on one medium and receive on another.
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When TelecomWeb, The Telecom Intelligent Group, as part of its research studies asked the Enterprise decision-makers about the most important capabilities of UC applications, the short answer was Accessibility and Business Value. The long answer was:
Accessibility – The ability to access UC applications from any end-point device (i.e. desk phone; wireless phone; or PC-based Softphone.
Business Value – The ability to use UC applications in a business context to achieve measurable business value (e.g. faster response to a customer inquiry).
Device Proliferation or Consolidation?
When probed more deeply on the subject of demand for access from multiple device to the features of IP Telephony systems and Unified Communication applications, here is what the Enterprise decision-makers had to say. Do Enterprise decision-makers expect there will be a proliferation of devices or a consolidation? The answer was Yes!
By 2009, over 40% of Enterprise IP Telephony users expect to have two or more devices that can access the features of their IPT systems and UC applications.
In five years, up to a third of Enterprise IP Telephony users could justify replacing their desk phone with an advanced wireless phone.
Though these two answers seem to be contradicting on the surface, the common element is that the broad market accepts Unified Communication applications.
In the recent market research survey, over 500 Enterprise and SMB decision makers were asked what percentage of their IP Telephone users would be very likely to use a Unified Communication in future. Here is the summary of the projected rate for Unified Communication Application over the next five years.
|Enterprises (more than 500 employees)||53%||48%|
|SMBs (500 or fewer employees)||61%||69%|
Here are vision statements of the two leading manufactures today who are investing heavily in Unified Communication area.
Microsoft unified communications technologies use the power of software to deliver complete communications—messaging, voice, and video—across the applications and devices that people use every day.
Integrating the experiences you associate with the telephone—phone calls, voice mail, and conferencing—the work you do on a computer—documents, spreadsheets, instant messaging, e-mail, and calendars—has the power to fundamentally change the way people work.
We believe unified communications will transform business in the coming decade in the same way e-mail changed the business landscape in the 1990s.
When phone services become software, are managed by a server, and are delivered to desktop applications, many interesting things happen.
Cisco Unified Communications: Enriching Collaboration through a Unified Workspace Today’s organizations must contend with increasingly complex communications environments featuring a wide array of communications methods.
Employees, business partners, customers, and constituents communicate with one another through infinite combinations of wired, wireless, and mobile phones; voice messaging; e-mail; fax; mobile clients; and rich-media conferencing.
Too often, however, these tools are not used as effectively as they could be. The result is information overload, lack of agility, and misdirected communications that delay decisions, slow down processes, drive customers away, and reduce productivity. Ineffective communications also result in missed revenue opportunities
because businesses are not prepared to quickly react to market changes.
Unified communications solutions have proven their ability to help organizations solve such problems, enabling them to transform their business, streamline business processes and reduce costs. For years, companies of all sizes have been realizing the benefits that carrying voice, data, video, and mobile communications across a converged IP network can bring. Today, Cisco Unified Communications Solutions unify voice, video, data, and mobile applications on fixed and mobile networks, delivering media-rich collaboration experience across business, government agency, and institutional workspaces.
These applications use the network as the platform to enhance comparative advantage by accelerating decision time and reducing transaction time.
From this it is clear that the focus is to use daily communications to accomplish all work in the most efficient way and without having the equipment that we use today get in our way.
Who are the major players in the Unified Messaging field for the enterprise?
Cisco, Microsoft, and IBM are the major players in this area. While Cisco and IBM have been working very closely together to blend their strengths to deliver a strong Unified Messaging or Communication package, Microsoft have had lots of help through their association with Nortel. For small to medium business range, there are plethora of startups competing for this area.
If you are a small company and understand IP Telephony, you could get an IP PBX for free, running on Windows or Linux platform. There is lots of Open Sources IP PBX available with all the great features that a small and medium business must have. It is amazing how the competition is driving the cost of small business market.
Whoever can build or create a best application for Unified Communication will win the market and the top three competing in this area recognizes that very well. This is a healthy competition because it leads to better services for enterprise or small business as well as drives the cost lower. Which means return on investment (ROI) will appear a lot faster than before.
Will Microsoft emerge as the king of Unified Communication?
As part of the survey TelecomWeb asked decision makers whether they were more likely to implement Microsoft’s version of a UC client or the version developed by the manufacturer/vendor of their IP-PBX. Here are the percentages of the respondents that favored the Microsoft version:
|U.S. Enterprise||U.S. SMB||International|
|UC Client at the Desktop||55%||63%||63%|
|UC Client on Mobile Devices||51%||54%||54%|
Though Microsoft is new to this area as compared to other players, do you agree that their direct association with Nortel will help them to emerge out as a King of Unified Communication?