Younger users demand unified communications

Young Web-savvy users are increasingly putting pressure on companies to implement unified communications tools, according to Orange.

Demand from younger employees is increasingly putting pressure on management to implement unified communications, according to Orange.

Laurent Kocher, senior vice president of global services at Orange Business Services, said users who are familiar with consumer Web tools "expect" to see similar "presence management" tools such as instant messengers which allow colleagues to see their online status.

"This is where the consumer space moves into the corporate world...there is significant pressure from new users to have tools like that. When they enter the workplace, they are surprised not to have such tools," Kocher told ZDNet Asia.

He added that such measures even go the extra mile to creating a better work environment for users: "CIOs are asked to implement this in order to retain staff."

And convincing upper management to sign off on a unified communications purchase may be easier by playing the "reachability" card, Laurent said.

"People spend less and less time with colleagues, so it's very important to maintain collaboration capabilities, such as with documents.

"Proving user 'reachability' so that their expertise can be tapped at any time is the way to show ROI (return on investment)," he said.

An IDC study released in August last year estimated 900 million consumers under the age of 16 in the Asia-Pacific region using Web 2.0 products, accounting for a third of the online population.

Laurent added that while many companies have invested on building their own IP (Internet protocol) backbone networks, he is observing an increasing trend toward leasing IP lines from service providers on a utility basis.

Such an investment shifts the burden on the company's capital expenditure budget to operating expenditure.