Demand For Unified Communications Increases

There is growing evidence to show greater traction in the market for UC solutions, according to Chris Barrow, Advanced Technologies Marketing Manager, Avaya, who says more users are buying into the technology.

There are a number of market drivers for UC at work, notes Barrow. Firstly, the economy is still in a fragile state and businesses are focusing on driving efficiency within the organisation, meaning they are only willing to invest in tools that maximise workforce productivity. Secondly, the fact that employees have access to more types of communication, applications and devices, is also part of the reason why demand for UC is growing. “We’re hearing from our partners that customers often feel overwhelmed with all the new platforms employees are using, such as social media and IM,” stated Barrow. “While social media can act as a useful business tool, it needs to be harnessed in the right way.”

Also coming into play is an increase in the usage of multiple personal devices at work. “Employees want to be able to use the devices they love but in a professional capacity,” added Barrow. “They also want to have access to everything on one platform and for all communications tools to link together seamlessly. This is where UC really comes into play. Obviously, the communications landscape is constantly changing, but I would say that these trends are encouraging our partners to take on more of a consulting role. We are all familiar with multiple devices and social media platforms but it is the partners’ job is to guarantee UC brings them together in a corporate capacity, ensuring all communications are professionally managed and secure.”

Something that is ‘top of mind’ for Avaya and its users is choice, observed Barrow. Modern enterprise workers are used to devices such as laptops and tablets and do not want to be shackled to single use communications devices such as the telephone for phone calls and a video conference suite for video calls. “Customers want a device that is not only multi-purpose but one that works for them,” added Barrow. “This is the reason why Avaya allows enterprises to communications enable multiple devices such as smart phones, tablets, PCs, Macs and more. We do this with a combination of the Avaya Aura architecture that delivers communications as a cloud-like service and the Avaya one-X and Flare user experience that ties these features together. It is therefore important that we go to market with partners who understand this consumer-centric world and can help us build a value proposition of ‘always on’, ‘always available’ communications that allow people to work together wherever and however they choose.”

Avaya’s experience is that businesses are still being cautious about spending money, so the first thing it had to do was help its channels change their messages to a RoI-based sale. “Nobody buys technology for the sake of it any more,” commented Barrow. “It is true that a full-on implementation of UC can cost a considerable amount of money, but a well-engineered solution will pay for itself. That is why we have seen growth in any area that reduces costs and has a fast return on investment. Video, web and audio conferencing have seen a lot of interest as they allow companies to collaborate while reducing the need for travel. For the future, any tool that allows a company to be more nimble and flexible and to outpace their competitors will also be attractive. Solutions such as VENA (the Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture) that allow businesses to add applications and reconfigure their communications network in a simple and error free way will see good attention in the coming 12-18 months.”

Videoconferencing is definitely one of the solutions that is driving growth in the UC market. It has taken some time but companies have become more inclined to use this technology as a business tool, whether it’s for engaging in face-to-face with colleagues or customers. “We’ve seen a lot of market activity over the past year, and part of what is fuelling this trend is customer expectations,” noted Barrow. “Consumer videoconferencing solutions are being used at home more regularly now than ever before and people expect the same level of access at work. The important part is to ensure that videoconferencing comes as an integrated part of the UC mix. It’s about ease of use, streamlined communications and collaboration. People want to be able to flip between methods of communication, depending on the situation they’re in at that moment but this process has to be easy and quick, so they can initiate a video call there and then.”

Barrow also notes that with the rise of social media and multiple platforms for communication, businesses need extra support in understanding how everything fits together. “This is a great opportunity for our partners to embrace more of a consultative role which takes advantage of their solution knowledge and technical expertise,” said Barrow. “This will enable them to communicate the benefits of new applications and then up-sell as needed to ensure the customers have the best option. With so many tools and options available now it is important that the customer is well advised. This type of consultative role will become a more integrated part of the reseller’s daily activity, and we encourage them to embrace this. As communications evolve, this type of personal touch will serve as a real competitive advantage and will support them in generating more revenue and satisfying more customers overall.”

To find our more about using an Avaya Phone System in your business and how Unified Communications can help you then visit Avaya.com