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30 Jan 2013
People have been arguing the “cost savings” case for unified communications for a long time now, but according to Steve Blood, research vice president for Gartner, that isn’t enough. He explains why.
“The picture I’m giving is ‘innovating at the speed of unified communications’,”, explains Blood. “You’ve got to link innovation to unified communications, and that’s where I plan to start.” His themes will involve a look at the workplace and how people want to work; this involves a great deal more than cost control.
“When CRM was a new concept it was assumed it was an IT project, and a lot of IT’s focus was on how to save money,” he says. “Everything was focused on metrics like speed of the desktop, and yet if you have a CRM strategy and you execute on that then you improve the relationship you have with your customers, which is far more valuable.” It’s this sort of transformative, strategic approach which will allow the potential of unified communications to be seen rather than automating an existing process to save money, he believes. “I’m not going to say ignore cost savings, you need to focus on them and there are opportunities there. But I think any company that says, ‘I have a UC project and will save money’ is not going to take advantage of the benefit.”
He challenges the notion that you can do unified communications without collaboration. “We know we can do collaboration without UC, because we’ve been doing it for many, many years. The real issue is whether we’re really doing UC if we’re not doing some sort of collaboration with it.” He has seen a lot of projects in which one department is running collaboration and another running UC and doesn’t see this as sustainable. “I’ve been in workshops with clients where we’ve had the Cisco guys on one side of the table and the Microsoft guys on the other, and you could cut the air with a knife – they both think they own the project.”
He will say that UC needs to be driven from the top, preferably at C-level, and co-ordinated. “It’s like video technology,” he comments. When video conferencing started there were orders from companies to use video rather than spend money on travel, and people followed this because it was corporate policy. “If IT had said, here’s some video technology, why not use it, it would never have worked.”
Steve Blood will be keynoting at Unified Communications Expo at Olympia, London on 6 March. The event runs from 5-6 March.