UC has also allowed the firm to save money through reduced long-distance calling and the avoidance of hotel calling charges, Gold says. While he wouldn't quantify total savings, Gold says executives and agents can avoid calling costs of as much as $3,000 for a single overseas trip.
"There are so many different levels of savings that if you [consider that] and factor in the enhanced level of communications that goes with it, it's hard to say what the total value of the technology is, but it is exceptional," Gold says.
Without concerns about calling costs, people are more inclined to make calls they need to make to do their jobs. "One of the senior VPs told me that [in the past] when he would travel he would make a call to the office and then bounce around to different people in the office so he wouldn't have to make separate calls," Gold says. "Now he doesn't have to get it all done in one call to save toll charges. It raises the level of communications because in the past people might have tried to avoid making calls."
Some IT executives see UC technology as a work in progress, with improvements still needed.
"There is a need for more well-defined standards and protocols for communication between technologies, thus enabling simple integration," says Jim Spicer, executive vice president/group executive and CIO, Wells Fargo Corporate Technology and Data, at financial services firm Wells Fargo & Co. in San Francisco.
For now, he predicts, this integration improvement will happen in only "a subset" of UC areas, because most vendors see competitive advantage in having proprietary formats. "We would hope that as the capabilities evolve [we] might see this improve."
Within UC, "there is a need for more well-defined standards and protocols for communication between technologies, thus enabling simple integration," says Jim Spicer, CIO of Wells Fargo Corporate Technology and Data.
In addition, Spicer would like to see UC products better support the data archiving and discovery needs of companies, which he says are growing and currently require much custom integration and effort. Many companies need this archiving capability for regulatory compliance purposes. "Convergence across some of the vendor products in the market to make this simpler and less costly would be valuable," he says.
Wells Fargo implemented a UC system -- which Spicer declined to identify -- in part to increase productivity and collaboration among staff and to meet demand for instant, real-time communication.
The firm has seen benefits, such as the ability to connect teams across diverse geographical areas in a more real-time way, and in the future expects to see gains including reduced need for travel, the ability for users to see each other face-to-face in real time for interactive discussions, and more effective team meetings conducted remotely.