Plot ROI to deliver Successful UC Implementation

By Kunal Mehta, General Manager - IT - Lifestyle business, Raymond Limited

Unified Communications (UC) has become the new buzzword for describing the integration of real-time, enterprise, communication services. Considered as a set of products to provide a unified user-interface and user-experience across multiple devices and media-types such as instant messaging (chat), voice (including IP telephony), audio, web & video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), mobility features (including extension mobility and single number reach), desktop-sharing, data-sharing, call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (e-mail, voicemail, SMS and fax); UC allows an individual to send a message on one medium, and receive the same communication on another medium. Every organization seems to see great value in its implementation. However, implementing UC requires careful planning and strategy.The organization needs to ask key questions to determine whether UC is right for the organization and what would be the right way for making a smooth transition.

The entire process of implementing and delivering UC involves many people, organizations and internal/external information, all of which will benefit from better communications.
1. Business Collaboration. UC is a technology where co-workers, business partners, and clients can come together and collaborate using advanced data sharing and communications devices. One can exchange ideas, data and share documents instantly. Many of today’s services provide Real-Time-Collaboration (RTC) like (Google Apps, WebEx, Google+), calendars, scheduling, workflow and integrated voice response (IVR)
2. Communication. UC enhances business communications by bringing all available devices and means of networking under one roof. The benefits go beyond access-With a click of a mouse you can escalate an instant message (IM) exchange into a phone call or even a conference call, bringing others on board.
3. Data Access. Users enjoy un-paralleled remote access to the system because UC operates across all communications devices. Connect to your organization’s internal network via wireless using your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or home computer. UC ensures that all your messages--voice, email, and others--reach you in your chosen format, preferably your email inbox.
4. Business Processes and System Integration. UC expands integration between data and communications applications, promoting continuity across business processes. One can access business process applications-enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), and other data management and reporting utilities. For example, when UC enables a salesperson to make calls from within the CRM system, or allows process control manager to chat with field engineers in real time from within their operational management dashboard, UC becomes more embedded into the overall operations of the business and not a standalone app for making calls, conducting chats or sharing screen content
5. User Presence and tracking. UC technology is the real-time presence interface, which allows you to view the availability of all users and their communication preferences. This cuts wasted time tracking down available users and leaving messages. For example, a customer support specialist can use the presence application to identify an available expert qualified to answer a particular customer question.

However, while implementing UC, the business needs to plot the ROI and go beyond measuring costs and consider the positive impact to business processes, such as faster application upgrades.

CIO’s need to understand the specific and measurable ROI benefits offered by cloud services, not just in reducing operational and capital costs, but enabling buyers to take advantage of faster upgrades and broader accessibility to UC applications.

Any ROI exercise for UC as a service (UCaaS) should start with measuring the total cost of ownership (TCO):
•Network upgrades and WAN optimization: These include upgrading to power-over-Ethernet-compliant switches to support IP phones, additional Internet bandwidth WAN optimization
•Implementation & Operational costs (CAPEX /OPEX): This would include the man-hours of the organization resources + third-party costs and number of licenses. The OPEX would include (monthly service fee + equipment maintenance + managed services + training and certification) / number of licenses.
•Training calendar: A proper training plan is required for employees and other supporting staff.

Vendors are increasingly working towards providing analytics within their products that allow not just IT, but also line-of-business managers to see the real-time impact of UC capabilities. This includes correlating employee use of instant messaging and video chat with sales performance; measure product development cycle improvement through new capabilities such as IM and video sharing.

Ultimately, achieving UC success means first identifying and establishing the business metrics that can be improved via investment in better collaboration capabilities. Then, identify roles, personas and processes that can benefit most in the shortest period of time. Finally, change the definition of success away from network and application performance-centric goals to business-centric ones. 

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