Fortunately, UC can be deployed in increments, rather than require a major infrastructure upheaval, says Don Van Doren, principal at UniComm Consulting LLC in Loomis, Calif. Companies can purchase the UC capabilities and licenses as needed. "This means that savings from early improvements can be used to help fund subsequent application implementations," he says.
Despite the slow growth of the market overall, UC holds promise for organizations, Gareiss says.
In fact, some believe that the boom in mobile communications will help spur demand for UC as a way of tying it all together, and to help enable the promise of anywhere, anytime connectivity across multiple types and brands of devices. Analyst firm Info-Tech Research Group uses mobility as one key factor in its recently released UC scorecard.
Companies that have deployed UC are seeing results. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) of Northbrook, Ill., a global independent product-safety science company, two years ago implemented a UC platform that includes components from Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Avaya.
The company wanted to improve communications and collaboration throughout the organization and at the same time upgrade an aging communications and networking infrastructure, says Tom Boxrud, IT director, global operations at UL.
As part of the upgrade, the company deployed Microsoft's Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 R2 unified communications platform, which integrates instant messaging, audio, video, Web conferencing and telepresence into Microsoft Office. It also deployed a voice over IP (VoIP) telephony system from Avaya and network-infrastructure components including switches from HP.
"We had outgrown our existing technology, but additionally UL was in a period of transformation, and one goal was to improve communications and collaboration" with customers, Boxrud says.
We have not seen significant growth in the number of companies doing something with UC. Robin Gareiss, executive vice president, Nemertes Research Group