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Unified Communications : This is the Future

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

In today's dynamic business environment, the most important benefit comes

from having a communications system that can change and grow at a moment's

notice. Enabling new capabilities for more effective business communications,

employee mobility, streamlining business processes and improving profitability.

In this scenario, unified communications is gradually gaining momentum as

enterprises continue to invest in leading edge communication technologies,

scalable infrastructure, common management suites as well as secure voice and

videoconferencing.

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With recession looming large, more companies will now be looking at unified

communications technologies such as video and web conferencing/collaboration as

a way to reduce travel expenses, at the same time being eco-friendly.

According to a Frost & Sullivan forecast on unified communications in India,

the total market size is around $670 mn (2008) and likely to grow to more than

$1bn by 2010. Majority of this includes enterprise IP telephony; and

applications like presence, mobility, conferencing and collaboration make up

around 10%.

Key Trends



The scope of unified communications in India is tremendous. Significant

trends have been observed across industries like hospitality, IT/BPO, banking

and financial services, telecom, etc. There has been impressive increase in the

percentage of deployment of unified communications products and applications.

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With the emergence of virtualization, embedded software on open platform and

the software-as-a-service model (SaaS) model, there is increased focus on

services and applications delivered over a robust network infrastructure.

Communication-as-a-Service (CaaS) is a logical extension to the SaaS model

with hosted unified communications solution on a service providers' network. IP

telephony hardware is hosted at the third party data center and the user is

provided access to assets on a monthly rental basis.

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Companies will go beyond the initial capabilities of IM, like click-to-call

and online presence, to deep integration with business processes and line of

business applications.

Hottest Technologies



Some technologies which are already available in the Indian market are IP

telephony, unified messaging, video telephony, audio/video/web conferencing,

collaboration solutions, instant messaging and customer contact services, all

integrated with each other and with the messaging and business applications. But

the unified communications market in India is ready to adopt new technologies,

which will give further boost to this segment.

Video streaming and rich media technology is the next wave and give users the

ability to hear or view a file in real time, without downloading it first. Other

new technologies which are being launched are presence or location based

services using the SIP protocol and tele presence. Enterprise mobility is

another application which is going to see a lot of action in the coming days

with the launch of clients for cellular phones which provide all unified

communications applications for a mobile workforce.

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Experts panel


Minhaj Zia, national sales manager, unified communications, Cisco

India & Saarc



Sanjay Virnave, president, Sales, Tulip Telecom


Natarajan S
, VP, R&D, D-Link India



Vivek Prowal
, BU head, unified communications, Avaya GlobalConnect



Shailendra Badoni, COO, Datacraft India


Raghunath Vijayaraghavan
, marketing director, Bay Talkitec



Sukhvinder Ahuja, director, sales, Nortel India

Communication enabled business processes and further enhancement of

Intelligent Presence Aggregation are two of the most interesting technologies

that companies can look forward to in the near future. Some of the other

upcoming technology advancements are:

  • Hosted Setups: Completely outsourced or hosted pay will definitely have a

    substantial role to play in this regard. Context based offerings by service

    providers spread across a base of customers reduces capex as well as opex

    charges.
  • Open Platforms: Enterprises are gradually moving toward open platforms,

    direct benefits being ease of migration, customizations, integration across

    diversified tech points and applications, and a substantially low total cost

    of ownership.
  • Location Based Services: Roll-out of GPS linkages to applications like

    Location based services
  • New Businesses Processes: Increase in First Contact Resolution (FCR) for

    contact centers.
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Blooming Sectors



The present scenario sees a huge growth in the telecom sector as telcos

continue their efforts to maintain the customer base by offering good customer

interaction experiences via voice, SMS, email, web and video. In India there is

tremendous potential in some verticals like BFSI, contact centers and the SME

segment.

Enterprise

Concerns
  • Government regulations on PSTN and VoIP interconnections restrict

    companies from deploying the complete solution
  • Availability of good broadband infrastructure and low cost of

    bandwidth
  • Security, scalability and manageability
  • Ease of maintenance of IP networks
  • Lack of availability of standard equipments across an enterprise
  • Low awareness about new technologies
  • Last mile connectivity
  • Cost of IP handsets vis-a-vis traditional handsets

Besides the IT/BPO segment, hospitality, manufacturing, tier-2 and -3 cities,

retail and the government space have a large potential for unified

communications implementation. The volatile economic environment has spurred

corporates to maximize operational efficiency by cutting costs, hence a unified

communications solution is a boon at this time.

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User Demand List

  • Bring the cost of opex and capex down
  • A single vendor taking care of end-to-end services delivery
  • Evaluation is getting increasingly more focused on end user benefits,

    business relevance and strategic fit of the solution to the business goals
  • Opex and managed services models to finance unified communications

    deployments
  • Improving communications using video thereby reducing travel related

    expenses
  • Hosted models to reduce capital expenditure
  • Adequate bandwidth positioning and interoperability

Bright Future



This year comes with enormous challenges. Enterprises are definitely not

willing to replace the existing infrastructure, and are looking at adding

unified communications components in a way that they provide interoperability,

afford ability through an opex model as well as provide the unified

communications promise.

Tips for CIOs
  • Understand organization needs closely. Allow for variations for

    different functions within the organization
  • Assess the state of the enterprise for a specific time frame
  • Identify key business issues that unified communications will resolve
  • Plan the road map to full unified communications with the milestone of

    piece-part deployment
  • Evaluate and consider the component of unified communications that

    gives quickest RoI, and is interoperable
  • Ensure proven long term reliability and security while selecting

    vendors
  • Take a stock of the current infrastructure and usage pattern of

    various communications services and applications used
  • Identify the gaps in personal and team productivity tools available to

    both contact initiators and recipients
  • Before going for unified communications deployment ensure that the

    network is geared with the right network equipment
  • It is always better to carry out an audit of the network

Organizations are beginning to realize that they will be left behind if they

don't make a decision on unified communications-as this is the future.

Arpita Prem



arpitap@cybermedia.co.in

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