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Reaping the benefits of UC

Kathleen Ayres | Oct. 20, 2010
Unified communications can deliver efficiencies by integrating multiple and disparate communication modes.

In the effort to improve profitability in this difficult economic climate, enterprises are being forced to evaluate ways to utilise people, processes, and technology more efficiently. To that end, every business should look closely at how the complex Web of business communications can be enhanced to increase individual and group productivity and improve the quality of business interactions while reducing telephony and travel costs.

Unified communications (UC) offers the potential to deliver those sought-after efficiencies by integrating multiple and disparate communication modes including fixed and mobile phones, messaging, presence, conferencing and collaboration systems into a unified and cohesive communications experience.

Data from Infonetics Research, an analyst firm, supports the growing interest in UC in the Asia-Pacific region.  While North America (NA) dominates worldwide enterprise UC sales today (with 51 per cent of the market for the two main application types deployed unified messaging and communicator client), that trend is altering. With 13.7 per cent of the market today, Asia Pacific sales totalled $16.6 million in Q2 2010, up 16 per cent year-over-year (compared to negative year-over-year growth for NA). By 2014, Asia Pacific is expected to have 17.7 per cent of the worldwide enterprise market, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.6 per cent (compared to NAs lower 11.7 per cent CAGR).

What this highlights for enterprises deploying UC themselves or the managed service provider (MSP) taking advantage of revenue-generating opportunities for customer premise-based managed UC service offerings is the need to understand and prepare for the challenges and requirements of the new UC environment.

There are several considerations that must be taken into account to ensure deployment and management of high-quality UC services. These considerations include the following:

•         Quality of the user experience

UC involves many real-time applications, which means that a service performance issue may not merely slow these applicationsit can make them unusable. An IP telephony call with poor quality or an inferior Web/video conferencing experience will be met with little tolerance by users relying on these applications and services for critical business interactions. Providers must have the means to monitor the quality of the user experience to meet their customers service-level expectations. Failure to do so can result in lost revenue due to customer churn or penalties.

•         Monitoring a sophisticated UC infrastructure environment

The very nature of a diverse UC infrastructure across the IP network from data centre to end-user device poses a challenge to effective monitoring to ensure end-user quality of experience (QoE). Unifying voice, e-mail, messaging, and conferencing requires integrating multiple applications, each with different hardware, software, operating systems, server and network elements.  All of these infrastructure elements have disparate performance and capacity indicators that need to be cohesively monitored for their contribution and impact on UC service quality.  In addition, the physical and/or virtual servers must also be managed for optimised data centre performance.


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