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October 09, 2007

UC Technology is Getting Real, Ball is Back in Enterprise End User's Court



By Art Rosenberg



Today was the first stop of CMP Media’s VoiceCon Tour 2007, which focused on the realities of migrating to unified communications (UC). Now that UC technology is becoming real as communication software products and services, it is time to look at how end users, both inside and outside of the enterprise organization will exploit new UC capabilities as part of their business processes. This is not only practical from an implementation perspective, but is also necessary to provide business justifications for enterprise management.

 
What we originally referred to several years ago as personal “micro-productivity” for individual users and group “macro-productivity” for all end users involved in a business process, has now been expanded by the UC Strategy experts who organized the VoiceCon Tour day-long program. In order to plan for implementing UC technologies, both analysts and technology providers are now urging enterprise organizations to tie in specific, high-value business processes to communications activities, under the label of a “Business Process Zone.”
 
Most of the program sessions discussed practical questions about how to go about implementing UC capabilities based upon business end user needs and business process payoffs, rather than just infrastructure questions and IT responsibilities. The technology providers who participated in the discussion panels were all in agreement that operational business needs have be identified and prioritized as a prerequisite for any intelligent implementation planning. Business management has to know what business communication problems they want to solve first, which can then be translated into UC capabilities for specific categories of users, both inside and outside of the organization.
 
Business Process “Hot Spots”
 
Marty Parker (News - Alert), now a principal of Unicom Consulting that is dedicated to assisting enterprise organizations in planning and implementing UC technologies, provided useful guidelines to the audience for “starting at the top” to find critical delays in communications that cause inefficiencies in high-value business process work flow procedures. Such “communication hotspots” should the initial targets for selective UC implementation because they can more easily justify implementation costs and minimize the scope of the UC project to very doable, non-disruptive levels of effort.
 
Because UC technology is comprised of a variety of communication application components that may be used both independently by end users (desktop and mobile messaging, telephony, voice/video conferencing), as well as integrated with a variety of different business process applications, it has been difficult to “see the forest for the trees.” However, UniComm Consulting and UC Strategies have put together a very useful framework for organizing such technologies in an objective way to enable business analysis needs to correlate with the new functional capabilities of UC technologies. For more information about this planning framework, check out the information provided on
the UC Strategies website about “UC Solution and RFP Templates.”    
 
New Siemens (News - Alert) User “Painpoint” Productivity Loss Study
 
A highlight of the program was a preliminary announcement by a panelist from Siemens, Graceiela Tiscareno-Sato, Global Marketing Manager for Unified Communications (News - Alert), who discussed some key findings from an objective study of business users around the world and their loss of productivity because of “fragmented” communications. This study was also sponsored by UC Strategies, and a copy of the report can be downloaded, as well as a podcast interview about the results, can be found on that web site.
 
The bottom line of the study was to show that real productivity losses can result from inefficient business communications, most of which can be translated into hard dollars. Such losses will not only be felt by the enterprise organization, but obviously also by the individual users. With the next generation of business workers already conditioned to be mobile and multimodal in their communications, UC capabilities will therefore become very critical in attracting and retaining valued employees.
 
Graciela offered three key steps for enterprise IT to follow:
 
  1. Help identify key business employees and the business/communication application processes they use (She suggests asking HR who those people are!)
  2. Look for available technology that will “unify “ those communication processes
  3. Help “pilot” those business processes to learn what UC can do for productivity and “pain points.” Such pilots can also use hosted services to facilitate implementation.
The VoiceCon Tour reflects a step forward in educating the enterprise market, especially IT management, on how to move forward towards UC. I was told by one of the attendees, obviously not an IT person, but a business user, that she was very pleasantly surprised to learn what new UC capabilities can do for users and business communication procedures. She apparently was now going to become more actively involved in pushing for UC.
 
What Do You Think?
You can contact me at: artr@ix.netcom.com or (310) 395-2360.
 
Are You Ready For Microsoft’s (News - Alert) Big UC Launch on October 16th?
I authored a recent white paper describing UC ROIs and practical approaches to enterprise transition planning that highlight Microsoft’s UC product positioning for simplifying the challenge of evolving to UC. Rather than start with replacing existing wired desktop phone systems, the UC evolution can start with adding IM/presence management, unified messaging, mobile devices, and IP softphones. You can download a copy of the white paper by going to the UC Strategies web site at: http://www.ucstrategies.com/Migration_to_Unified_Communications.aspx  

 

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