How different industries use unified communications

The benefits of unified communications (UC) apply to all industries, but it is in the niche uses that vertical industries find for UC that the benefits are illustrated most vividly.

June 18, 2012

BY BENNIE LANGENHOVEN, GM, TELLUMAT COMMUNICATIONS*

The benefits of unified communications (UC) apply to all industries, but it is in the niche uses that vertical industries find for UC (and its underlying fabric, Internet Protocol or IP telephony), that the benefits are illustrated most vividly.

Financial services

So, for instance, multi-site organisations like banks can benefit tremendously from UC.

  • Thanks to its centrally-managed systems architecture, significant savings on operating costs are possible while bringing down the total cost of ownership.
  • Not only does UC, when deployed across branches can bring enormous cost saving by ustilising free calls between branches, but also increase productivity and efficiency by having one phone system providing full features across branches as if in the same building.
  • UC applications that are relevant to banks include Outlook integration, for contact list dialling.
  • Banks’ call centre costs can further be slashed with the possibility of remote agents.
  • And their customer service can be improved dramatically if they use presence technology to get an expert on the same call.

Education

Universities have sprawling campuses with hundreds of lecture halls, a central administration competency, student and faculty accommodation and facilities supporting many thousands of students and staff. The support of all these (and an even larger body of off-campus students and faculty members) with communications and collaboration technology is a classic use case for UC.

  • Collaboration and meetings are easily orchestrated and cost-effective, and finding an expert no longer prone to delays with the help of presence.
  • Research departments become far more competitive and accessible to their external networks with the collaborative efficiencies and effectiveness of UC.
  • And faculties can easily be outfitted entirely with IP telephones, even down to lecture halls, on the strength of the savings generated from no longer having dated telephony systems that won’t scale and are costly and difficult to manage.
  • But the benefits don’t only reach universities – with basic and adult basic education and training a social imperative in South Africa, access to quality teaching and complete learning solutions can be arranged with cost-effective distance learning solutions based on UC platforms. In existing schools, on-premise equipment and staffing investments can be rationalised with UC.

Healthcare

With healthcare, the mobility aspect of UC comes into play very prominently.

Nursing staff, at a chronic shortage, spend most of their time inefficiently – that is, interacting with other hospital personnel, with detrimental impact on their time with patients.

  • UC puts a nurse with a mobile device on the other end of a four-digit dialling extension, no matter if she leaves her station to attend to an emergency.
  • Nursing staff can also access patient charts and medical diagnosis information in a rights-based way, without the usual delays of printing or gaining access via face-to-face interaction.
  • Emergencies can be more satisfactorily resolved, as specialists’ reachability increases through presence.
  • And with UC, telemedicine and remote diagnosis becomes a cost-effective possibility, another plus in a country with great social redress to be made.

Many benefits

Indeed there are many compelling benefits for UC in any of the vertical industries, with other notable examples in the distributed campus settings of governments, and the mobility needs of retail staff.

* Tellumat is the South African distributor of ShoreTel systems.