The current economic climate has caused growth in unified communications (UC) deployments (ref. Information Week, September 2009 "6 Tips for Optimizing UC Adoption" by Jim Koniecki); reasons being that a correctly-implemented UC project can realize rapid return on investment and essentially fund itself.
So what is UC and how can it help business owners? Essentially, UC incorporates or "unifies" elements of phone systems, video conferencing, instant messaging, mobile telephones, data communications networks, and IT systems. But, that's technical jargon.
For a business owner, UC is all about building in productivity to the business operation. For example, UC allows my clients to utilize employees in disparate locations to seamlessly work together on customer problems. UC allows a company to fully leverage available employee resources, including the IT resources that manage their infrastructure. UC centralizes management of what are typically disparate systems and applications. And, it provides an easy-to-use toolset for my clients to get better results with lower cost.
But beware, like any IT "solution", unified communications is all about aligning the available technology with the current infrastructure. Before beginning a UC rollout, it's important to understand how the solution will work with existing infrastructure. To spread out costs, and make UC quickly pay for itself, it's usually possible to step the migration in phases. It's also important to understand how one will centrally manage the final solution, as that is one of the biggest benefits of unified communications.
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