Building the Future

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Unified communications segment has risen to the forefront in the recent

months, thanks to the ongoing economic turbulence. Organizations were forced to

curtail unnecessary expenses, and adopt technologies enabling corporations to

work seamlessly irrespective of the geographical locations.


According to a research report from Wainhouse Research, the unified

communications industry will grow to $30 bn in just five years. While the market

will actually experience negative compound annual growth on the product side, it

will be mitigated by a robust positive growth.

2009 saw an increase in the adoption of UC technologies by enterprises for

business continuity. Although, there has been a significant exposure to advanced

UC technologies due to recession and other factors, basic IP telephony (both

greenfield and replacement) has still dominated the market, followed by the

growing deployments of rich media collaboration (audio/video/web conferencing;

mobility solutions that allow for fixed mobile convergence delivering single

number reach/single mailbox; digital media delivery; and presence solutions.

Expert Panel

Rajesh Thakur, associate VP, India Business, HCL


Minhaz Zia, national sales manager, UC, Cisco India and Saarc

Benjamin Green, unified communications practice manager, Verizon
Business Spokesperson from NEC India

Sanjay Virnave, president, sales, Tulip Telecom

Saurabh Sanghoee, head, consulting & solutions integration, Orange
Business Services, India

Raghunath Vijayaraghavan, director, marketing, Bay Talkitec

Shailendra Badoni, COO, Datacraft

Ravinder Raina, head, private network & solutions, NEC India

Srinivasan S, founder & director, VIVA Communications


Technology In Demand

Over the last one year, hosted contact center offerings are driving the

adoption of UC in the mid market enterprises, while the larger enterprises are

largely influenced by private and customized deployment of collaboration


Video conferencing was largely adopted by enterprises for eliminating the

need for face-to-face business meetings or travel related expenses. In addition

to this, adoption of videoconferencing helped organizations reduce their carbon

footprint, and become more environmentally responsible.

Traditional communication vendors embraced IP telephony as the future

standard for enterprise communications. Along with the advantages of flexibility

given to the end users, IP telephony allows them to reduce the cost by combining

their voice and data networks, and has additional managerial benefits.


The dominance of conventional communication environments where end users have

a separate email client, instant messaging client, desktop telephone, fax

machine and browser based conferencing capabilities will eventually reduce and

UC will take the center stage.

Tips For CIOs

  • The first step towards UC deployment in an organization is to

    patiently plan towards it. Unfortunately, this is overlooked by many

    companies and lead to problems at a later stage
  • It is worthwhile for CIOs to evaluate between continuing with the

    existing infrastructure for communication or upgrading to UC. Before

    taking the plunge and deploying UC, ensuring a check on the application

    and network architectures is another idea
  • Establish a benchmark for collaborative success
  • Focus on the end goals. Build a UC plan based on the long term and

    short term goals
  • Combine ingredients to create a complete experience. Effective

    collaboration is not just about data or video or voice or mobility, it is

    about how the tools are combined to create a collaborative experience that

    can reap maximum benefits
  • Listen to workforce. Evaluate policies to promote efficiencies and

    productivity within the organizations
  • Big leaps often begin with baby steps. Educate users about instant

    messaging, desktops and mobile voice calls, audio, web and

    videoconferencing technologies to achieve value
  • Partner with the best. Partner with a solution providers that can

    integrate multiple technology platforms for best success
  • Be Inclusive. Good collaboration goes beyond organizations

Enterprises are now increasingly relying on collaborative, multi-modal

electronic communications between employees, customers and partners. With

heightened emphasis on security and compliance, enterprises are seeking

standard, flexible and policy based solutions that they can use to consistently

manage, enforce and audit access to their infrastructure.


Today, enterprises are looking forward to leading edge technology, on-demand

conferences, flexible deployment, common management suites, highly scalable

solutions, secure VoIP conferencing, embedded multi-points options and more


Major players in this space are ready to introduce new technologies in the UC

portfolio. Cisco has recently introduced technologies like Intercompany Media

Engine, Unified Presence 8.0, Unified Communication Manager 8.0, Show and Share,

Enterprise Collaboration Platform, and Pulse.

Some new technologies that HCL Comnet is to come up with include affordable

enterprise/hosted telepresence solutions, applications that ride on UC

deployments to add tropical value by integrating with the organizations's

application services infrastructure like CRM, building management system, next

generation digital media delivery for retail, education and enterprises.


Enterprise Concerns

Employee expectations along with the competitive environment have put an

increasing pressure on business executives to quickly embrace collaborative

processes and tools. But current technology alternatives are difficult to deploy

and integrate. Most have long deployment cycles, don't scale to mobile

workspace, and lack business controls.

As a result, people can't connect and communicate across firewalls or

corporate boundaries. This leaves companies with the challenge of how to combine

the reach, speed and flexibility of web 2.0 tools without compromising on

security, reliability and policy of their networks.

According to leading players in the UC space, the major demand from CIOs has

been de-clutter and breakdown of the UC concept in practical, predictable

initiatives. CIOs are demanding that solutions offered to them address specific

business needs, clearly demonstrate RoI, and be both scalable and flexible.

Another demand is to make enterprise communication system robust, secure and

survivable. Deployment and operation cost have always been focal concerns of

CIOs apart from RoI figures. CIOs are demanding engagement models based on

controlling and lowering of the enterprise costs.


The advent of UC will pose a number of significant challenges. It is evident

that UC enhances business processes, but it also poses challenges like:

  • One of the largest challenges in the UC implementation is application

    performance, which is of utmost importance as it directly affects the end

    user's experience.
  • Another big challenge is the availability of skilled labor for supporting

    the network infrastructure and troubleshooting.
  • Interoperability of UC solution like in the case of videoconferencing

    being compatible with similar other party products.
  • Scarcity of bandwidth is another hiccup in the smooth functioning of the

    UC solutions.
  • Need to streamline information delivery, and maximize the value of

    existing/planned IT infrastructure.
  • An increasingly mobile workspace making it necessary to build a strong

    communication system for ensuring inter-employee productivity.
  • Business processes mandating the need for teams to collaborate across

    functions, organizations and geographies.
  • High communication costs, multiple communication service providers, and

    difficult charge back.

Organizations are concerned about the ambiguity in government regulations,

especially regarding rich media communications on private WAN and integration

with public telecom infrastructure. Also the inability to seamlessly integrate

dual mode devices over public cloud is a concern and a stumbling block for UC



The Green Edge

Some early adopters of UC have already reported a worldwide 20% reduction in

their travel cost due to the usage of advanced videoconferencing technologies.

It is a great way to reduce enterprise costs and employee fatigue while lowering

carbon footprint significantly. Deploying compact consolidated UC solutions help

organizations save power and cooling resources vis-à-vis traditional analog


Advanced collaboration technologies like telepresence and WebEx are helping

organizations reduce their carbon footprint and variable cost by allowing them

to conduct rich experience meetings and seminars.


  • Organizations using UC applications saved an

    average of thirty-two minutes per employee on a daily basis because of the

    presence of technology enabled staff to reach one another on the first try
  • Organizations using unified messaging reported that

    employees saved forty-three minutes per day from efficient message

    management, while mobile workers saved fifty-five minutes
  • Companies using integrated voice and web

    conferencing reported a 30% reduction in conferencing expenses, and an

    average savings of $1,700 per month in travel costs
  • Use of softphone resulted in an average savings of

    $1,727 per month in cell phone and long distance charges

Server consolidation and virtualization can reduce the space necessary for

servers, PCs and storage equipment; and allow to tap into the roughly 85% of

computing capacity commonly left unused. Cloud based computing and applications

save investment in costly equipments associated operational expenses, and can

scale to meet the fluctuating demands of the business.

Focus Verticals

All organizations today are looking to optimize their operations, and

collaborate more effectively. Naturally, the larger the organization, the

greater the benefit that can be gained from the deployment of collaboration

tools. But all organizations that focus on technology usage to improve

collaboration can realize the benefits. However, major verticals include

finance, retail, government, education, manufacturing, healthcare and energy

apart from the IT sector which has been one of the early adopters of UC.

A lot of traction can be seen from cross-vertical of start-ups and new age

enterprises especially in the retail, media and service industries. These highly

mobile organizations depend almost entirely on their communication

infrastructure to do everyday business, and the UC industry is nurturing a

highly symbiotic relationship with these industries.

Also with approximately 50-60% of IT spend in the country expected to come

from the flourishing SMB segment, it is clear that there is a huge market

waiting out there to be tapped, and companies are focused on addressing it.

Adoption Scenario

Green IT and its emergence will propel the growth of UC within global and

country-wide enterprises. Organizations will be more open to the concept of UC.

Use of conferencing facilities will reduce the commute time and long distance

travel giving rise to emerging technologies like WebEx and telepresence.

With the increasing globalization and thinner time boundaries, presence

functionality will play an important role in communication solutions. Today,

with increasing number of touch-points such as multiple phones, email, SMS,

instant messaging, the work force is increasingly getting closer and

geographical boundaries cease to exist.

Rise in web 2.0 technologies and proliferation of social networking websites

have increased so much that Twitter and Facebook conversations have become more

real-time than emails.

The Coming Years

As the Indian companies grow bigger and expand globally, it will be

imperative for enterprises to deploy UC to enhance productivity and reduce

costs. It will enable new capabilities such as effective business

communications, employee mobility, streamlining business processes and improving

profitability. Indian organizations are beginning to realize that they will be

left behind if they don't make a decision on UC as this is the future.

It is expected that UC adoption will happen in the overlapping stages. In the

next three years, a lot of large deployments of UC technologies will enable

collaboration from across verticals, with major buyers being BFSI and

government. This will be followed by small enterprises' UC revolution that will

include a lot of opportunities on innovative, and flexible UC deployments across

thousands of enterprises through hosted UC models.

Arpita Prem