End-user experience key to Unified Communications

Unified Communications (UC) has emerged as an enabler that cannot be pigeonholed.

November 23, 2009

Unified Communications (UC) has emerged as an enabler that cannot be pigeonholed.

Indeed, UC can be a satellite phone on a plane, a TV – anything that can be linked and integrated to enhance communications that benefit the workplace and user experience in general.

It is set to ensure information is available and people are contactable anytime, anywhere, on almost any device.

The Yankee Group also recently highlighted the strategic significance of UC solutions: “A user experience for audio, video, Web, and data collaboration that breaks down all distance, time, and media barriers, and allows people to communicate with one another anywhere, anytime, and across any medium from multiple endpoints”.

“The key is to provide a solution that delivers true value to the organisation and its individual users,” comments Chris Wortt, VoIP Sales Manager at Polycom in Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA).

Taking the First Step

When deploying a UC solution it is important to consider whether it should be rolled out in phases or in a single deployment.  Today, many companies find it easier to deploy UC incrementally by choosing a particular line of business or function such as sales to act as the pilot.

In other cases organisations believe it should be deployed all at once to ensure widespread user adoption and deliver the resultant business benefits.

The Importance of the User Experience

It is important not to get off on the wrong foot when deploying a UC solution.

For example, conduct a thorough assessment of the network before deployment.  Poor audio quality, due to inadequate bandwidth and Quality of Service (QoS) tarnishes the UC user experience and hampers overall acceptance.

A recent study conducted by In-Stat and Wainhouse Research, concluded that the market for UC will reach in excess of R30 million by 2012.

However, according to the study, driving the accelerated adoption of UC include the wide availability of IP broadband access, more capable mobile devices and the technological advancement of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), an application-layer control protocol that can establish, modify and terminate multimedia sessions such as Internet telephony calls and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), an architectural framework for delivering IP multimedia to any fixed or mobile user.