Survey: WiMax may have enterprise mojo; Unified communications interest (and confusion) abounds

There's interest among CIOs and technology executives to deploy WiMax and 57 percent of those surveyed are evaluating or piloting unified communications technology, but few have deployed it, according to a report from Forrester Research.The report, which examines the state of enterprise networks, has a few interesting takeaways.

There's interest among CIOs and technology executives to deploy WiMax and 57 percent of those surveyed are evaluating or piloting unified communications technology, but few have deployed it, according to a report from Forrester Research.

The report, which examines the state of enterprise networks, has a few interesting takeaways.

First up, unified communications has generated interest, but there's a gap between deployment and the sales pitch. One potential problem: Unified communications is a murky term that vendors--Microsoft, Cisco, Nortel and a bunch of others--yap about, but the average bear can't define. More than half of those surveyed said there was confusion over the business value for unified communications.

For the record here's the official unified communications definition (TechRepublic resources):

The realtime redirection of a voice, text or e-mail message to the device closest to the intended recipient at any given time. For example, voice calls to desk phones could be routed to the user's cellphone when required. E-mail intended for a desktop mailbox could be sent to the user's PDA or turned into speech for a phone message.

Sounds great, but the messaging is messy amid all the banter about so-called "solutions." Toss in the fact that every vendor wants you to standardize on its platform and things get muddy quickly.

That confusion is brought out in the Forrester report. For instance, 57 percent of those surveyed are evaluating or piloting unified communications, but only 11 percent have already deployed. There are 16 percent that are rolling unified communications out at their companies. The rub: 55 percent of respondents are confused about the value of unified communications.

Anyone that has been to a unified communications panel or listened to various vendor pitches isn't surprised by that statement.

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Among other notable items:

WiMax may have some enterprise mojo. Only 9 percent of those surveyed have deployed WiMax, but 54 percent of firms say they are interested in the technology. Wireless email or BlackBerry (65 percent of respondents) and personalized contacts and calendar (66 percent) top the list of mobile application priorities.

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95 percent say cost savings were an important reason why they were using managed telecom services. Simplifying operational management got 51 percent of the vote.

55 percent of respondents said savings was a very important factor in deploying international wide-area network services.

Cisco dominates IP audio, Web conferencing and video conferencing. Among those surveyed, 40 percent have deployed IP infrastructure already and 29 percent close to installing. When installing IP PBX infrastructure 62 percent of respondents cite Cisco as the vendor of choice with 23 percent citing Avaya and Nortel.

30 percent of companies plan to automate call centers in the next two years with 34 percent considering automation, but don't have concrete plans in place.

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