Can unifying comms help in a recession?

The industry is gearing up for a major push into unified communications, but what’s driving such confidence that there will be sufficient demand?

Further Avaya-sponsored research by e-Rewards among small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) also found the need to streamline communications and centralise cost control through UC was greater than that of the their large enterprise counterparts. Over half (59 per cent) of SMEs in UK with between 20 and 80 employees said they would employ technology to enable employees to work from home if they could trial it first and see the benefits, where 71 per cent.

But a further 42 per cent in the UK said that less than a quarter of their employees and in some cases no employees were currently equipped to work away from the office. Anthony Bartolo, vice president and general manager of Avaya's Integrated Office Communications division said: "Many SMEs need to gain a better understanding of how telecommuting and mobility technologies can deliver a competitive edge. The advanced IP [internet protocol] and UC technologies available today are not just for big business anymore."

This is where UC should come into its own, as the IDC report predicted that UC could change the way European enterprises buy voice and data solutions. In the past, most of the sales efforts have been focused on selling to the IT department, but now the integration of voice and data with business-critical applications requires line-of-business (LOB) managers to have seats at the negotiating table.

As a result, IDC predicted that UC would win significant opportunities for network-related services players, from both the service provider and systems integrator sides, in the short and medium term. It suggested these services companies could been seen as a single point of contact for the enterprise and resolve issues (ranging from licensing to network and application integration) by interacting with desktop UC software players such as Microsoft and IBM, as well as voice vendors like Cisco and Avaya.

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At the same, the convergence of cost-conscious recessionary times with a growing green and corporate responsibility agenda led the analyst to say that the adoption of premises-based UC solutions would lead the way, but that later on during its forecast period, hosted solutions would offer SMEs in particular interesting opportunities, as more fixed and mobile providers establish their UC strategies.

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