Gartner: Unified comms is not about saving money

Bringing voice, email and instant messaging onto a single IP platform is expensive and the business case should be based on productivity and collaboration drivers, the analyst firm claims

Companies should roll out unified communications to improve productivity and collaboration rather than to save money, the analyst firm Gartner has said.

Gartner surveyed 300 organisations and found that the mostly enthusiastically touted benefits of unified communications (UC) deployments had been in improved employee collaboration, productivity and customer service. However, companies that had yet to deploy UC listed lower total cost of ownership and lower equipment costs as their top expected benefits.

UC refers to the unification of disparate elements such as fixed and mobile voice, email, instant messaging and conferencing onto a single IP-based platform, including features such as presence that make it easier to see who is available at any given time.

"It is evident that there is a significant difference between the expectations of UC and its actual benefits," said Gartner analyst Steve Blood on Wednesday. "We recommend that organisations build a business case based on enabling mobility and agility rather than on reducing IT department costs."

Referring to UC as "expensive", Blood added that organisations looking to implement it should look across their business and IT units to establish which groups could benefit from improved collaboration.

Blood also said that organisations failing to follow best practice in involving their networking team with IT projects would pay at least twice as much for their application development projects. "Ideally, networking should be involved from the beginning of the application project, actively proposing functions that can be usefully performed in the network, as well as ensuring that applications are tested," he said.