Unified Communications Hurdles Still in Play

Deployment results aren't viewed as stellar, survey reveals.

December 10, 2008

Judy Mottl

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Unified communications adoption remains at a snail's pace and the latest deployment results aren't likely to spur stronger growth any time soon.

A new survey ranks a majority of UC projects as "average" in terms of benefits, and while the technology is getting a lot of buzz, just one in six enterprises has put UC in place. Concerns ranging from security to infrastructure requirements remain top challenges.

The news comes as the UC market crowds up, with vendors pushing various solutions that promise to streamline business processes and gain better efficiencies around operations.

Unified communications ties instant messaging, e-mail, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), presence technology, as well as video and Web conference capabilities into one platform strategy. Cisco, Microsoft, Nortel, NEC and IBM are some of the big names that have offered new UC platforms and applications this year.

The survey released this week by UC vendor Siemens, and conducted by Market Tools, reports that 53 percent of large U.S. companies are either discussing, pursuing or implementing UC installations.

Plans for the future and challenges

Yet, of the 53 percent, just 16 percent have installed systems and 37 percent plan to do so within the next two years, according to the survey. Of the 16 percent, two thirds rank their company’s result as "average at best." The common benefits cited by respondents are increased productivity and business responsiveness.

"The chief challenges are the need to 'rip and replace' and the 'all or nothing' nature of UC, which leads to a perception that UC can potentially be difficult and expensive to adopt," Janyce Harper, VP of marketing for Siemens Enterprise Communications, said in a press statement. “It is a legitimate concern if the approach is to swap out or upgrade the entire telecom or e-mail infrastructure,” she added. Some UC systems can be built on parts of the existing infrastructure.

The survey polled 506 U.S. tech and business professionals responsible for implementing enterprise telephony systems at enterprises with employee bases ranging from 10,000 to 25,000.

TAGS: Microsoft,IBM,unified communications,VoIP

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