Unified comms to test technology mind set

Consumers will lead the way

The concept of unified communications will be increasingly driven by business requirements rather than discrete product solutions, with tech-savvy staff also driving the revolution.

Senior analyst with Sydney-based telecommunications research firm Telsyte Sam Yip said one of the biggest drivers for unified communications is business growth.

"Business size is pushing people to unified communications as it's a challenge moving from a small business to an enterprise," Yip said, adding organizations also move to become more competitive but a lot already have what they need.

Telsyte recommends not restricting unified communications to a single telephony provider and to assess applications as they can be turned into telephony end points.

"As hardware becomes a commodity we are going to see more hardware vendors give up on appliances and work with software vendors," Yip said.

Yip cited Nortel's partnership with Microsoft as an example of this.

Unified communications solution provider Dimension Data's chief technology officer, Gerard Florian, said the company wants to "lift the discussion" away from individual products and technologies.

"When people get hung up on products the discussion gets stunted," Florian said. "As consumers become more educated they come into the office with point requests. Rather than get distracted by those requests, IT departments need to put together a plan."

Florian said IT needs to understand how people want to work because with the looming skills crisis people will prefer to work in an organization where they can use the technologies they have become familiar with.

"To simply demonstrate ROI with unified communications is difficult [and] the big thing with ROI is the business case," he said. "Just look at messaging. Many organizations are running two e-mail systems so there might not be an ROI to consolidate, but if the calendaring and phone messaging doesn't work across the organization the business will be held back."

Cisco Australia channels director Jeff Sheard said there is a major transformation in the way business is being done and the promises of the dotcom boom are being delivered.

"The new generation of workers who are looking to use social networks and consumers are now driving technology change," Sheard said. "There is a war for the best and brightest and these people expect to use these technologies."

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