A new survey from IDG finds that the vast majority of companies using unified communications (UC) tools have realized noticeable improvements in a number of key areas. When asked how UC has impacted their organizations, the respondents’ answers were overwhelmingly positive.

  • 97 percent report improved collaboration.
  • 93 percent report increased productivity.
  • 87 percent report faster problem resolution.
  • 81 percent report faster decision-making.

The study shows that UC is not only a useful business tool, but an indispensable one. More and more organizations are realizing that the ability to collaborate in real time, regardless of the user’s location or device, is essential to achieving business goals and improving operational efficiency. Geographically dispersed workforces must be able to share ideas, access data that is current and accurate, make informed decisions, and swiftly respond to customer inquiries and market conditions.

One might assume that collaboration should be easy because technology provides us with plenty of ways to communicate, including voice, video, email, instant message, text and chat. However, when these channels operate in silos and devices have compatibility issues, collaboration is slow, inefficient and frustrating. We’ve all been in situations in which we tried to reach someone on their office phone, on their mobile phone, and via email. UC brings all of these channels onto a single platform, allowing for seamless, simplified communication, while presence technology makes it possible to locate users and determine if they are available.

When communication is seamless and employees are aware of their co-workers’ availability, less time is wasted. UC boosts productivity on the employee level and team level, providing a consistent user experience across all communications channels and devices. Functionality such as click-to-call and “follow me” voice service remove communication bottlenecks. Videoconferencing applications allow for formal and formal informal collaboration without the travel expenses and advanced planning of in-person meetings. Everyone has access to the same tools and data so more gets done in less time with less confusion.

In many cases, the biggest obstacle to taking full advantage of UC is the disconnect between deployment and usage. The IDG study found that some UC tools are widely deployed but rarely used, while others are rarely deployed but frequently used. For example, more than half of respondents have access to videoconferencing, but most use it less than once a week. On the other hand, just 37 percent of organizations have a presence tool, but nearly 80 percent of employees at those organizations are using presence on a daily basis. As great an impact as UC has had on collaboration, productivity, decision-making and problem solving, there is still much business value to be gained by increasing usage of existing tools and deploying new tools that users will likely embrace.

When choosing a UC vendor and service, it’s important to understand that the value proposition of UC is different than IP telephony, which has a proven ROI tied to specific business outcomes. UC is still evolving. It does not have a standard definition and covers a broader range of tools and services. Vendors offer a wide range of UC applications and models for implementation. Before you can evaluate the value proposition of each vendor, you must define business use cases and objectives for UC in your organization. Make the vendor show you how their solutions address your specific use cases and objectives.

IPC specializes in helping organizations assess their strengths and weaknesses in communication and choose UC tools that deliver the best possible results. Let us implement a UC solution that is aligned with your company’s goals and maximizes productivity and collaboration.