Big UC projects proceeding despite budget constraints

Multinational corporations are upping the pace of unified communications implementation and integration despite fierce budget constraints, according to a survey by international IT research firm Ovum.

UC rollout has progressed painfully slowly in these huge organizations, but many individual UC applications are now deployed, with a strong focus on video in the coming year, said the research house. It added that extending UC to mobile devices is a priority for many.

Almost all the organizations taking part in the survey have a global strategy for implementation of IP telephony, said Ovum.

“More than 40 per cent have a global IPT strategy including a roadmap for implementation throughout the company or group — a big change since last year, when only one in four said they had a group-wide implementation roadmap,” said Pauline Trotter, a principal analyst based in London. “The dominant model is to have a global IPT strategy but with implementation requiring business case authority at business unit level, according to the unit’s individual needs and budgets.”

Many multinationals are now moving into the global implementation phase and are putting partnerships in place to support this activity, according to Ovum.

“Almost all of the companies we spoke to (86 per cent) have selected a global equipment vendor for IP telephony –a substantial increase since last year, when just over half had formed global equipment vendor partnerships, said Trotter.

Cisco Systems Inc. and Avaya Inc. dominate the global vendor partnerships, but a number of other IP telephony vendors are named, said Ovum, adding that less than one-third also have a global implementation partner in place — a similar number to last year — with Dimension Data the most frequently named company. The Johannesburg-based integrator has offices in 45 countries.

A number of other global telephony implementation partners are named in the report, including France’s Orange Business Services and U.S.-based AT&T, the analyst company added.

E-mail and instant messaging are the most commonly deployed applications on handheld devices today, said Ovum. However, many of the interviewed Enterprise Virtual Private Network VPN User Association (EVUA) members are planning to deploy more mobile UC applications within the coming year, Ovum added.

The EVUA is a non-profit user organization aiming to promote global networking solutions for multinational companies.

There is particular interest in telephony presence features; click-to-call from mobile applications; and single voicemail, single number and simultaneous ringing for fixed and mobile. Many companies plan to use dual-mode (GSM/Wi-Fi) devices. There is least interest in extending video applications to mobile devices, according to the research firm.

Relatively few of the companies interviewed are using mobile extensions to the PBX. Around 65 per cent have no mobile devices acting as PBX extensions, said Ovum. Modest growth is predicted, with around half of the interviewed sample expecting to be using some mobile extensions within a year, the advisory firm noted.

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