While interest in unified communications (UC) runs high, many IT and business decision makers are hesitant to deploy, according to an Osterman Research study sponsored by ConnectSolutions.
According to the survey, 26 percent of IT decision makers and 39 percent of business decision makers are either somewhat or very fearful about migrating to UC, with nearly half (48 percent) of those surveyed admitting that they don’t fully understand the full impact UC would have on their organizations.
Meanwhile, one out of six organizations admitted their legacy investment in telephony and related systems is a key factor for not immediately adopting a UC solution.
"Businesses hear all about the benefits of UC, but they want to know how UC will impact their specific organization, and they’re right to question this, because no enterprise is the same and no UC deployment will be the same," Glen Vondrick, CEO of ConnectSolutions, told eWEEK. "This can be difficult to comprehend, because the benefits of UC and time to ROI for each organization depend on so many factors, including network configuration, workforce culture, adoption roadblocks, and where UC can help each business the most."
While nearly a third of decision makers agree that a full return on investment from legacy technology is preferred before moving to UC, another two-thirds would consider improvements in employee productivity as reason enough to justify the migration.
Fears and hesitation notwithstanding, 71 percent of those surveyed believe there are significant and even enormous benefits to be realized from the deployment of UC.
"We find small businesses assume they’re too small to benefit from UC when quite often, the opposite is true—especially if the organization depends on remote workers or wants to achieve global reach as many small businesses do," Vondrick said. "It’s important for them to know that they don’t have to embrace everything that UC has to offer in the here and now. In fact, UC is a journey that warrants a phased approach regardless of the organization’s size, so the business can live with the deployment long enough to realize all that UC can truly do."
Osterman Research predicts the percentage of users served by UC would jump from 45 percent today to 68 percent in 2017, with some of the boost coming from a remote workforce that is expected to climb from 14 percent to 22 percent in that time.
The survey also revealed a change of heart among IT decision makers with a majority of them (55 percent) now recognizing Skype for Business as a legitimate productivity enhancer.
"As we achieve more seamless digital communication through any app, file or browser, people will be able to connect within the context of a certain task while incorporating all kinds of tools like the smartphone camera to visually communicate things that can often take forever to communicate via written or even spoken word," Vondrick said. "But overall, UC technology will be tightly integrated into the desktop with all Microsoft applications to enable users to work from anywhere on any device with the same experience."