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UC in the enterprise: Who benefits the most?

Unified communications (UC)'s user productivity enhancements will vary among different user groups in an organization. Find out who stands to gain the most: It's not about saving IT dollars, but improving efficiency in all departments in an enterprise.

Everyone in an enterprise can use some of the unified communications (UC) features and functions some of the time, while others may use them all of the time. UC is all about multiple forms of multimedia communications and its control -- control by the caller and control by the called party.

I am sure some vertical markets will accrue more benefits, while some markets may not see much value. What I want to explore are the varying benefits within any market by studying the staff and the potential value to individual staff members. The real value is in user productivity enhancement -- not saving IT dollars, but improving efficiency in all the enterprise's departments.

The most obvious beneficiary is the person who already uses communications as part of his daily routine. The less a person communicates, the lower the value of UC. One conclusion is that UC, when populated throughout the enterprise, will have varying degrees of acceptance and success.

So let's look at those who would benefit least:

Desk jockeys
These are individuals that generally work alone. They may use data communications frequently but do no have frequent voice contact with other individuals. A data entry person is an example.

Stationary users
These individuals stay in one location and do not require any form of mobile communications.

Low level staff
An individual user's position in the enterprise hierarchy may also influence the potential benefit. The lower the ranking, the less the investment in that individual and the less likely that UC will change his productivity.

Factory workers
Those who assemble products do not have a need for much communications and therefore will not see much, if any, productivity improvements with UC.

The most likely beneficiaries may not make up the largest staff population, but they will see the benefits quickly.

Executives
These individuals are communicating by voice and text regularly. Enhancing their communications channels with more options will increase their ability to gather information, make decisions and direct members of their organization. The difficulty will be training these executives, who often do not want to invest the time in learning new procedures, even if they are beneficial.

Sales and marketing
Much of sales and marketing is communications, mostly with customers. Reducing telephone tag, knowing the status/availability of those to be called and controlling incoming communications will all be beneficial.

Team leaders and members
Enterprise teams are increasingly not collocated but distributed. The team leader must have rapid communications with team members and have continuous presence information.

Decentralized call center/help desk staff
It is obvious that centralized call center/help desk staff members need communications to perform their work. More call centers/help desks are being decentralized with work-at-home staff. UC features will allow call center supervisors to effectively manage their staffs as well direct incoming customer calls.

Mobile workers
Anyone who can not be easily accessed by walking to their location can be more effective if they have access to multiple forms of communications and, thus, can operate as if they are located in their office.

Consultants, accountants and lawyers
Many consultants, accountants and lawyers work on multiple projects and are not always at an office. They need to be accessible to their clients.

Trainers
Trainers need temporary communications to remote sites to deliver their information. The conferencing capabilities of UC are mandatory. Each training session is like a short-term team meeting.

IT staff
Many IT staff members can not sit at desks all day to perform their work. IT staffs move around the IT facilities and also meet with internal clients locally and remotely. During these meetings, it is very likely IT staff members are not near their desktops or phones.

Unified communications clients 32 minutes saved per day reaching workers on first try
Softphones 40 minutes saved for traveler from convenience
Enterprise IM 51 minutes saved by escalating IM chat to web conference;
53 minutes saved by escalating IM to phone calls
Unified messaging 55 minutes saved for traveler from efficient message management;
43 minutes saved for non-traveler from message management
Conferencing and collaboration 30 minutes saved from virtual conference steup through Outlook/Notes integration

About the author:
Gary Audin has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security experience. He has planned, designed, specified, implemented and operated data, LAN and telephone networks. These have included local area, national and international networks as well as VoIP and IP convergent networks in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia.

This was last published in September 2008

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