Despite this enormous shift of technologies, few large Australian organisations have moved beyond the most basic use of unified communications (UC) technologies. As a result, few organisations have benefited from the workflow automation and employee productivity capabilities allowed by the technologies.
According to Derrick Buckley, Gen-i’s Managing Principal for Collaboration, successful UC solutions are typically people centric, driven by the needs of users. “The collaborative environment created with UC solutions delivers incremental time savings to end users. Saving 10 to 15 minutes a day for employees can quickly add up to big productivity improvements. These are productivity tools that can have a huge impact on daily workflow for employees.”
The deployment of UC technologies can include the integration of the UC platform into business processes and critical applications. Outside contact centre environments, few Australian businesses have integrated customer and employee communications with their software application workflows.
Buckley continued, “Most businesses are looking to achieve productivity gains for their employees, as well as potential simplification of their communications systems. Significant business savings can be achieved through a complete end-to-end UC solution, incorporating voice and IP telco services, UC tools, business integration, desktop deployment and support.”
While the savings achievable by deploying UC will clearly vary within different sections of a business, a desire for more flexible work arrangements is leading to a greater need to accommodate work from home arrangements. UC technologies such as presence and instant messaging can play a major role in assisting teleworkers become more effective team members and reduce their feeling of isolation.
Further complicating matters for IT departments, there is a growing clamour from employees demanding the ability to use their own tablets and computers when working in the office. The ability to deliver consistent and reliable communications services across a diverse range of tablet and computing platforms is becoming more important.
In this rapidly changing UC technology space, the emphasis has tilted towards highly integrated software, with vendors such as Microsoft, Cisco, and Avaya being major UC vendors active in the Australian market.
Video conferencing is already a widely used technology in business meeting rooms, and popular with teams that work across multiple locations. The cost benefits achievable through reduced employee travel costs are easily quantified, making it easy to build a business case, and project the potential ROI. According to Buckley, video conferencing might be finally ready to break out of the corporate board room and shift to the desktop.
“More than anything else, consumer technologies like Skype have broken down barriers to the acceptance of video conferencing amongst employees. Employee demand is going to drive the use of desktops and mobile devices for video conferencing. The technologies are available, it is now just a matter of user preference.”