Unified communications benefits and risks: does your enterprise really need it?

Building business cases for unified communications (UC) based on cost savings has proven difficult. What’s more, many organizsations are also concerned about data security issues involved. 

It is getting clearer that the real benefit of UC comes from better interaction between company employees and from closer integration of communication and collaboration in a more efficient business process. According to Claudio Castelli, senior analyst at Ovum, UC is scratching the surface of a new paradigm for more purposeful social interaction in organizations.

UC will affect companies in different ways, says Castelli. “The increased collaboration supported by UC will translate into business benefits according to the profile, culture and social character of each enterprise. Not every company will value UC to the same degree.”

As organizations become more globally dispersed, it is more difficult to maintain rich social connections between staff, and with customers and suppliers. “Now that UC platforms are increasingly offering better tools, we should look more deeply at the social character of enterprise. What motivates and de-motivates employees in an enterprise to behave collaboratively with their peers, customers and suppliers?”

A range of factors might determine how “open” or “closed” for collaboration a company is, and therefore how receptive it is to the UC path. Relevant factors include:

  • Pressure to develop new products and services
  • Customer/stakeholder intimacy
  • Inter-relatedness with other organizations
  • Reliance on creative processes to solve novel problems
  • The culture of internal opportunity
  • Reputation flexibility
  • Data anonymity

A traditional institution, with a very stable portfolio, tight internal process and centralized market communication potentially has less to gain from the use of UC solutions and much to lose if rigid security policies and controlling tools are not in place.

On the other hand, a dynamic organization, such as a company whose business relies on a large number of staff providing customer services in the field, will get a lot of advantages from UC. Quick access to information and faster collaboration between specialists, including sharing of video and graphics, can make a huge difference on its deliverables.

An assessment of departments and individuals may be necessary to ascertain the real business benefits and risks. 

Says Castelli, “It is also important to note that a social assessment looks at the company as a whole but that use of UC might vary between departments. There are also other important tools such as user profiling which help to identify departments (or even individuals) that will benefit most from UC and identify the most appropriate UC tools that they should have.”