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Chris Murphy
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Unified Communications: Don't Forget The Glitz

Yes, we're in a recession, so now more than ever hard cash savings are the key reasons to adopt a unified communications strategy, and key to getting budget for it. Just don't forget that the gee-whiz features matter, too.

Yes, we're in a recession, so now more than ever hard cash savings are the key reasons to adopt a unified communications strategy, and key to getting budget for it. Just don't forget that the gee-whiz features matter, too.Most CIOs aren't selling unified communications -- tying together voice, data, and collaboration apps -- based on a grand strategy for re-engineering communication at their companies. They're selling it based on:

1. Hard cash savings

2. Gee-whiz features

That's my conclusion after reading our in-depth story on how some companies are getting their money's worth from their unified communications strategy. The piece makes the case that most companies are taking a very tactical approach to unified communications, justifying it feature-by-feature based on factors such as lower long distance bills and cutting teleconferencing fees:

That's probably a good thing, since it forces attention on features most likely to be actually used and business processes that would benefit most. Nevertheless, even as UC must prove itself, feature by cash-saving feature, CIOs should look for the larger opportunities that are harder to measure, from better co-worker collaboration to better customer service.

So with practicality ruling the day, why do I also say "gee-whiz features" are part of the rationale? Because CIOs who succeed with UC keep an eye on more than cash savings. They understand how their colleagues work and what features, once implemented, employees would fight to keep. They understand that emotion will be part of the success of a UC effort.

Talk with CIOs who are jazzed about their unified communications or voice-over-IP projects, and each will have a story about a top exec telling them how one feature, even one experience, brought home the value of it. In the current story, it's a law firm president answering a call from his hotel room in Tokyo in the middle of the night as if he were sitting in his office, thanks to VoIP. (BTW, I blogged on this theme a while back, and was told I must live on another planet .)

Unified communications is so closely tied to how people work everyday, making it better by saving people time. Connecting people more effectively is the real road to glory, and it will have an impact every bit as powerful as a cost savings.

Though by all means, deliver the cold cash savings. Or you won't be around to enjoy the glory.

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