Why are more businesses using unified communications?

Posted on January 14, 2016

Unified communications (UC) has gained popularity as a tool to enhance collaboration and improve productivity levels. But are the well-known benefits of UC likely to be realised?

Research from XO Communications indicated that many companies using UC solutions experience the advantages of doing so. With digital innovation being encouraged in Australia, now is the perfect time to digitally transform the workplace through UC.

The benefits of UC

XO Communications defines UC as the collaboration of technology designed to enhance communications. This is achieved through video conferencing, instant messaging or email as a set, rather than separate operations.

According to the firm's 2015 research findings, UC is rapidly gaining popularity among enterprises with 44 per cent of companies currently deploying such solutions.

This report, The State of Unified Communications (UC) in the Enterprise, outlined the benefits of using UC to address communication requirements organisation-wide. It found that a vast majority (87 per cent) responded that UC either met or surpassed their initial expectations. Other advantages included the following:

  • Enhanced group collaboration (86 per cent)
  • Increased individual productivity rates (85 per cent)
  • An improved consumer experience (69 per cent
  • Decreased travel expenses (68 per cent)

Moreover, digital innovation is being increasingly encouraged in Australia through the launch of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NSIA) in December 2015 by the federal government.

When announcing the NSIA, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated that innovation is the key to helping Australia's economy become the modern and dynamic force it needs to be.

"Companies that embrace innovation, that are agile and prepared to approach change confidently and with a sense of optimism are more competitive, more able to grow market share and more likely to increase their employment," said Mr Turnbull.

With the perceived benefits in combination with government support, the implementation of UC in Australian businesses is likely to increase.

What will the future hold for UC?

A March 2015 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report, Unified communications: Collaboration simplified, analysed the impact of UC on the current market as well as future expectations.

According to PwC, 2020 will see almost all companies using UC through hosted telephony and IP-based deployments. Moreover, the majority of these services will be cloud-based systems, designed to be remotely managed. PwC found that many businesses (39 per cent) are already leaning toward cloud systems with this likely to continue on a positive trend.

As with any new technology, security is of utmost importance. According to the 2015 Australian Cyber Security Centre Threat Report, there were 11,073 cybersecurity incidents that impacted Australian companies in 2014. Moreover, 153 of these attacks affected governmental systems, or those with national interest.

Heading into 2016, it is unsurprising that a recent Robert Half survey revealed that 38 per cent of Australian finance leaders responded that IT security will have the most significant effect on how a business operates over the next five years. Cloud security came a close second (26 per cent).

"No longer is IT seen as a back end function of a company. Organisations acknowledge the importance of IT when optimising and building their business," explained Robert Half Asia Pacific Senior Managing Director David Jones.

With the federal government boosting digital innovation, interest in UC is likely to increase further. However, having a secure system will become a greater concern, as firms continue to prioritise cybersecurity.

UC will continue to drive significant opportunity for businesses that take the steps early to capitalise on the benefits.