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August 28, 2013
Is UC a Game Changer for Businesses?
By Rachel Ramsey, TMCnet Web Editor

There have been a lot of great discussions surrounding today’s top technology and communications trends at the 2013 ITEXPO (News - Alert) Las Vegas. Included in these are panel sessions on the Next Gen Service Provider track, where different executives have discussed everything from generating revenue and managed services to cloud security and unified communications.

In one session, Sanjay Bhatia from Genband, Andrew Cook from Microsoft, Dennis Schmidt (News - Alert) from ShoreTel and Wei Tang from Yealink discusses the key benefits of the cloud,  different verticals and segments that are seeing these benefits and some of the most exciting potential opportunities for businesses using UC in the future.

One of the most consistent messages about the cloud, not just in this session but at ITEXPO overall, is that organizations need to figure out what they’re trying to achieve before they even start thinking about the cloud. You need to realize your goals, your requirements and resources to understand exactly why and how the cloud will help reach these objectives.

Bhatia explained that one of the key benefits of the cloud is that it provides a common place that is optimized for unified communications services. Depending on the size of the business and how many locations there are, the cloud enables organizations to provide a common unified approach for communications services across all of those organizations. You also don’t have to worry about maintaining equipment and hardware upgrades. Overall, the cloud provides a very productive environment for employees.

Cook offered some different things to consider when turning to the cloud. Do you want everything in the data center? What is the value the cloud will provide for your business? Why would you want unified communications in the cloud? How does the cloud and your solutions fit into your overall productivity approach? If you’re not connected, can you still be productive? These are all things to take into consideration when thinking about turning to the cloud.

Some of the key verticals and segments that are seeing rapid acceleration of unified communications adoption is the financial services sector, retail organizations, healthcare and education.

“Thinking about the specific vertical is not the only way to look at it. Different pieces of UC are expanding rapidly for different companies. Functionality is driving adoption,” Schmidt said.

Some of these pieces include video – not just video conferencing but using different capabilities like screen sharing and application sharing. Video is just a part of the bigger UC picture, but it brings quality, stability and reliability to communications capabilities.

So, the overarching question about cloud comes back to the demand for unified communications – has UC become a game changer for businesses? The overall response from the panel was, “Yes.”

At the end of the day, it’s all about how technology can improve productivity and enhance collaboration, and that’s what UC offers.

“I can’t imagine a world where I didn’t work from Boingo (News - Alert) on a plane, access a document from the road or fire out e-mails from a train,” Schmidt said. Different UC functions enable businesses to interact with people in a way that fits into their business and tools they use every day, and is not only changing our business communications, but our lifestyles.

UC continues to grow and improve every day. In the future, the panelists are excited to see the development of WebRTC and how UC will impact the contact center space and customer relationships, near field communications, the development around business intelligence that users can bring into their conversations and how UC will revolutionize different industries, such as healthcare.

“What organizations need to think about when it comes to UC is not that it’s a spending, but a gain. It’s a saving, and a better experience for your staff,” Tang said.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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