Unified Communications Adoption Slowed by Cost, Maintenance

IT leaders said that relying on best-of-breed communication and collaboration tools is more important than adopting tools from the same vendor.

UC allot

The top reason for delaying unified communications (UC) deployment is not cost or budget, but that a technology isn't a "must have" priority, according to a West Unified Communications survey of 250 IT managers.

The survey found that less than a quarter of IT managers feel cost is a primary reason to put off adoption.

About one-third of IT managers expect to implement or expand their video capabilities in the next three years, but cite it as one of the most difficult technologies for IT departments to maintain.

"Video's initial deployment approach required large, dedicated systems that were quite complex to deploy and maintain. It lived well outside of the normal IT team's core skill set," Kevin McMahon, director of marketing at West Unified Communications, told eWEEK. "It featured end-to-end deployment solutions, creating a wholly homogeneous environment. More recently, this has moved into the IT domain, as video is viewed as just another form of data."

McMahon explained that desktop solutions have emerged which provide far more flexibility at a much lower total cost and provide broader access to employees outside the enterprise.

"Additionally, intermediaries have entered the market to allow blended technology meetings to occur—meaning that users can leverage different clients via a central hub," he said. "This has migrated the complexity to a whole new area of concern around implementation and control."

More than half of IT leaders said they believe that relying on best-of-breed communication and collaboration tools is more important than adopting tools from the same vendor— just 15 percent of respondents prioritize maintaining vendor continuity over leading solutions.

Among companies with budgets between $26,000 and $100,000, only about half have implemented UC tools beyond basic audio and email solutions.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, 89 percent of companies with annual budgets over $5 million provide staff with solutions beyond email and voice.

Among those with annual IT budgets under $25,000, 49 percent make audio conferencing available to employees, and only 39 percent use video conferencing.

These businesses are also less likely to provide tools for internal collaboration—only 49 percent use some form of instant messaging, and 56 percent can share screens during conference calls.

"The kinds of sophisticated call routing and management tools that larger contact centers leverage will be increasingly adopted and deployed by enterprise clients," McMahon said. "These tools will be used to support groups providing support to both internal and external stakeholders. These tools will include multimedia engagement tools as well as robust workflow management and reporting—allowing for more agility and responsiveness to individual client needs."