Unified communications is emerging to become more than just an attractive proposition for the organisation of the future. Consolidating fixed and mobile contracts with a single supplier across multiple countries and business units - or in simpler terms, a single contact point that seamlessly connects the enterprise to its stakeholders - is a practical way of streamlining management and procurement processes.
Two major shifts are making new demands on enterprise telecommunications: flexible working and consumerisation. No longer constrained by desk-bound working, business users now work with a range of devices. The ultimate aim of unified communications is to rationalise these devices and channels- whether fixed phone, smartphone, PC or tablet, via SMS, instant message or e-mail. The advantage of unified communications is that it enables employees to use the most appropriate medium of communication for the task at hand, while keeping the integrity of the data when they switch or merge channels. Communication and collaboration is enabled anywhere, anytime, via a common communications platform.
IDC has identified that by 2015, 40 percent of employees in the Asia-Pacific region will be mobile. The crux of unified communications is its alignment of technology to the changing way people work, thus enabling the enterprise to function more efficiently in today's dynamic landscape.
The unified communications market in Asia Pacific is currently valued at $5 billion and is predicted to grow to $7 billion by 2016. This signifies tremendous growth in the sector and a trend that cannot be ignored.
Every business has its unique characteristics - different requirements mean different solutions. In implementing a unified communications strategy, there is no one size fits all approach. In choosing a set of unified communication tools that work, the enterprise has to ensure that every step of the implementation process needs to deliver real incremental benefits as a result of more integrated, flexible and convenient communications, for it to be deemed successful.
While it might appear challenging, the adoption of a unified communications strategy does not have to be painful. Successful rollout or scaleup a unified communications strategy for the enterprise can be broken down to four steps of a phased approach:
1. Review current infrastructure and capabilities
Evaluation is a key first step. By identifying current capabilities and existing infrastructure, and juxtaposing them against real end-user requirements, current usage and expenditure can be ascertained and gaps in technology identified.
2. Consolidate the elements
Consolidating suppliers and technology platforms sets the base foundation for the next step of technology convergence by allowing the enterprise to reduce costs through shrinking the number of elements involved and achieving greater efficiencies of scale.
3. Integrate fixed and mobile capabilities
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