This post is by Mike Anderiesz.
Sometimes it takes decades for an established technology to become obsolete, at other times the realisation sinks in all at once. Take the telephone switchboard; relied on the world over for the best part of century but now, like the landline itself, being replaced by a smarter, more environmentally-friendly solution.
Unified or Universal Communications (‘UC’ for short) refers to applications like Lync or Skype that are radically reducing time, travel and C02 emissions right across the business world. How big is this change? Take a look:
Save, save, save
- According to a 2014 report by Information Week, 30% of respondents said UC had increased communication with customers, 27% with partners and suppliers and 62% with colleagues
- Perkins+ Will saved over US$150,000 per year by switching from fixed-line audio conferencing to Lync
- UniCredit reduced employee travel budgets by 10%
- Helly Hansen slashed mobile phone budgets by 50%+
- Lync’s own research shows up to 60% savings on communication and 75% on travel costs whilst saving staff members an average 28 minutes per day
Where there’s a will
Of course, saving money has always been at the heart of UC’s appeal. For example, when Scottish Borders Council—the 6th largest local authority in the country – was tasked with slashing £1 million off its 3-year budget, it was assumed that whole raft of seismic changes would be required. In fact, it took only one; switching from conventional telephony to UC. Now with 800 council employees and 10,000 school users all using Lync, Infrastructure Team Leader, Gavin Innes believes that impressive savings have now been matched by other advantages.
“Staff are already working smarter,” he says “travelling less, and finding it easier to work at home or remotely without losing contact with colleagues. They experienced immediate productivity gains of at least 20 minutes a day.”
Neither is this just about telecoms. Lync’s research shows that real estate & facilities costs could also be slashed by 15-30%. In fact, Microsoft has already demonstrated this by reversing its decision to construct a multi-million pound building at Thames Valley Park, largely because UC has rendered it unnecessary. (<link to Building 6 piece>)
Onwards, upwards and forwards
Like smartphones and laptops before it, Unified Communications is now one of those developments that businesses can no longer live without. In fact, of those companies that have already made the switch, 65% say they would never go back.
Why? Because in the old days, colleagues just talked – now they can talk, see, share and collaborate, they can do it over vast distances or while travelling, they can do it from home, a classroom or hospital ward. In fact, UC has made people more mobile, more accountable and significantly more productive, all whilst saving their businesses a small fortune.
So by all means shed a tear for the telephone switchboard, just don’t generate any more C02 by flying out to the funeral!