Unified communications has been long on expectations and short on results, but an analyst report says mobility may give the kick it needs

Mobility may spark UC adoption: Report

Unified communications gets no respect.

As a concept it has been around for a number of years but in many ways hasn’t lived up to its expectations.

That may be about to change, says a new report on UC trends from Yankee Group. “We see mobility breathing new life into the UC marketplace,” says the report issued at the end of December.

As evidence, the report notes that in a survey 49 per cent of unified communications decision makers said mobile UC is as important as traditional UC solutions. Sixty-one per cent of respondents believe UC solutions have to have a mobile component to be truly effective.

It makes sense, the report says, in part because an increasing number of staff in organizations work out of the office.

It also notes that software developers like Microsoft Corp. are pushing mobile components in their UC products, while some wireless carriers around the world are integrating UC solutions into their mobile applications for businesses. In the next 12 to 18 months cloud-based UC options will emerge, it added.

“Mobile UC is for real,” says the report, “and it may just lead to a whole new wave of broader UC adoption.”

“I felt for a long time that mobile UC has more value to a worker than desktop UC,” said

Zeus Kerravala, an associate analyst at Yankee Group who is familiar with the report.

“Think of the way you work. When you’re at your desktop its highly inconvenient if you don’t have your communications tools tied together, but you can cut and paste from one application to another.

“When you’re mobile that is much more difficult.” For example, if someone calls a mobile worker with a phone number, he’ll need to reach for a pen to write it down because he doesn’t have a full keyboard. “The whole process of trying to unify communications manually is difficult when you’re in motion, or you’re in a loud environment like a train. So from a value perspective the environments we put ourselves in when we’re mobile lend themselves better to UC having more value.”

So when enterprises look for UC tools, he said, pay close attention to those that have interfaces to leading smart phones. Similarly, those who use business processes that are tailored to mobile workers – such as sales or support staff – will see the most value.

A mark of how important mobile UC is, said Kerravala, is some recent product announcements. Microsoft’s Lync unified communications suite not only works with Windows Mobile phones, but also Apple Inc.’s iPhone, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry and Android handsets. Cisco Systems Inc. and Avaya Inc. have tablets, he added.

“I’ve talked to buyers who’ve told me they feel that UC is a solution to no problem … To me, mobility is the low-hanging fruit for this industry.”

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