Unified communications can make your workforce more productive, but how do you get your CFO to finance a major project?
The rise of smartphones and tablets, combined with the increased availability of 4G and Wi-Fi connectivity, has made businesses more flexible and productive, with employees able to access applications and do work wherever they are.
Unified communications (UC) aims to make mobile workers even more productive by aggregating various modes of contact, such as fixed and mobile phones, instant messaging and VoIP, and ensuring that any type of communication can be access through any type of device.
But replacing legacy equipment with a new system can be viewed as a costly and risky exercise by those who control the purse strings, so how can you convince your CFO to splash the cash on UC?
Donald McLaughlin, director, UK&I collaboration sales and country manager Scotland, Cisco
“Unified Communications facilitate comprehensive collaboration between co-workers, partners, vendors, customers and information like never before. Alongside helping organisations meet the changing needs of an increasingly mobile, collaborative and virtual workforce, Unified Communications is proving to be an essential element in streamlining business processes and for boosting overall productivity.
“As employees are increasingly working remotely, collaboration technologies such as video and telepresence not only facilitate flexible working practices and capabilities to participate in a business-as-usual style, but also provide a more cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes. The ability to access data, applications and people via a unified mobile, social, visual and virtual workspace is an undeniable benefit in enabling all employees to be responsive and productive anywhere, while reducing the cost involved with delays, unnecessary travel or scaling of expert resources.
“In addition, the capacity to replicate a face-to-face experience facilitates stronger internal and external relationships and drives faster and more efficient decision-making for businesses. In turn, this can result in improved customer satisfaction and ultimately in reduced total cost of ownership and increased ROI.”
Huib Coopmans, global product marketing manager, Unified Communications & Collaboration, Verizon
“Not only is Unified Communications (UC) a potential money-saver for businesses operating in today’s global economy but it also provides the means for organisations to reinvent how they deal with suppliers, partners and with customers. This makes it an attractive investment from the CFO’s perspective and opens up other business channels and opportunities. In addition, by bringing together voice, video, instant messaging, e-mail, and conferencing together in a single unified suite, enterprises can enable their employees to communicate more effectively with their colleagues regardless of their physical location, the devices they use or differences in their time zones.
“With the emergence of cloud-based UC solutions, CFOs are now provided with even greater scope for efficiencies and cost reductions. Cloud based UC solutions are easily scalable and don’t require a major upfront capital expenditure to get started; by outsourcing communications platforms in-house resources are freed-up to be used elsewhere and more effectively within the enterprise and most importantly by being based in the cloud, single platform UC solutions can be more easily deployed across entire global operations – maximizing initial investment and unifying global employees.”
Andrew Small, Vice President, Unified Communications, CRM and mobility, BT Global Services
“Unified Communications enables businesses to increase productivity and spend more time on client-facing tasks. It is about getting communications channels to seamlessly, and harmoniously, work together.
“From replying to email with your voice, turning an IM into a conference call to answering your desk phone from the train, the right collaborative solutions can transform business processes by increasing productivity; simplifying communications and enabling flexible working. With more than 25 years of experience delivering innovative services for audio, web, video and streaming collaboration, BT has built, delivered and managed some of the most complex conferencing solutions for customers worldwide.”
“From financial standpoint, Unified communications can help businesses to lower their costs. The right collaborative solutions will save money because it is all about connecting the systems that a business already has in place and helping to make them work more efficiently together.
“The pricing models directly address the need within IT departments for solutions that are cost efficient, scalable and easy to deploy. A single global price per user type has been introduced to simplify pricing arrangements for customers with operations around the world.”
Jon Nowell, head of product management, TalkTalk Business
“The on demand real-time needs of businesses are bringing the enigmatically named unified communications (UC) to the table. In a nutshell it is about consolidating multiple communication methods and devices into a flexible platform. By incorporating all hardware and software, organisations can reduce the pressure on their IT resources and increase productivity in the workplace.
“The implementation of UC ensures that the business need never miss a call again, as incoming calls can be routed to desk phones, twinned devices or apps. A missed call might sometimes appear trivial, but realistically how many times will a new business prospect try to call before they give up and side with a competitor? Reliability and dependability are major aspects of a business’ reputation, and whilst they don’t appear on a company’s balance sheet, they are an intangible asset which is fundamentally important to companies of all sizes.
“UC creates a dynamic yet controllable work environment through integrated features such as instant messaging, voice and calendar. Crucially, it enables users to seamlessly switch from one device to another, with video calling from any location. This work-anywhere functionality naturally leads to a clear return on investment, by reducing unnecessary travel costs and promoting productivity and meeting employee needs for greater flexibility, which should catch the attention of any CFO.”
Robert Keenan, head of portfolio management, Unify
“When explaining the importance of Unified Communications to a CFO, the first question I would ask is ‘do you have a smartphone?’. Invariably, they would respond with a positive. If you then asked what they liked about it they would reply with a long list of advanced features. These could include task management, emailing on-the-go or even just watching a video on their down time.
“What’s interesting is the things that make a smartphone a smartphone, calls and texts, are unlikely to be top of the list. Just imagine trying to recommend to a CFO that they downgrade from their smartphone to an old Nokia because they don’t “need” those modern features in a device created to make calls. I don’t think that conversation would last long.
“The tools and functionalities of a smartphone have become so embedded in the way we go about our lives and business that it’s unimaginable doing without them. Previously, people would’ve had to use a notepad or laptop to complete a task, now they can pull out their phone and do the same thing simpler and swifter. This is what UC can do for a business.
“Unified Communications can replace and transform traditional approaches to the age-old practice of collaboration. It changes business in the same way that smartphones did. UC is like the divide between smartphones and old-school handsets: people didn’t know what they were missing until they had it.
“Think of it this way, if you were buying a mobile now, would you purchase a Nokia 3310 or a smartphone? The same is true for communications platforms; organisations require technology that reflects the world as it is, not as it was.”
Bradley Maule-ffinch, director, UC EXPO
“Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) is becoming an increasingly important consideration for CFOs today because of clear business and financial benefits as well as employee demand. Many employees now have the right to request remote working and increasingly, the very best candidates are only considering jobs which offer them more flexible options.
“For the CFO, the associated cost benefits are realised from a reduction in desk numbers and facilities needed for fewer office-based staff, savings on travel budgets, car parking, utility bills and so on. Both public and private sectors are benefitting from this technology. Essex County Council, which enabled mobile and flexible working for all the 12,000 staff has seen a reduction in ICT costs by 30% and improved KPIs by 25% across the board.
“Far from the ‘skiving’ unproductive employee that may be feared from mobilising workforces, they are in fact highly motivated and productive. According to recent research from Cranfield University flexible working, as enabled by the deployment of UC&C, helps employees produce better quality work.”
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