by April 1, 2009 0 comments

Every organization today boasts of having so many new communication
technologies in their setup. But, at the same time, nobody would disagree that
even with all the rigmarole, reaching out to the right person at the right time
by using the right mode of communication is a challenging task. Just when you’re
in dire need of contacting somebody, that person is just not reachable. Let’s
illustrate this with an example. You managed to get a hot customer lead, for
which you need to consult your marketing head for some information. Your
organization has a new marketing head, who has recently joined. The customer has
requested you to get back to him urgently with the information. So, you first
call up the marketing head’s extension, only to be greeted by a voice mail
message. You then decide to contact the person on his mobile, but since it’s a
new person, you don’t have the number. So you call up HR and manage to get it
somehow. When you call up, the person doesn’t answer. You send a SMS, asking to
call back immediately. The person responds that he’s in an important meeting and
can’t take calls, and therefore asks you to email the query to him. You once
again call up HR to get the person’s email id, and the HR person is not
available on his seat. But somehow you manage to catch the HR person and get the
email id. You finally send off an email to the marketing head and await his

You’ll notice here that a lot of time was wasted in trying to simply reach
out to the marketing head. Incidents like this and even more complex ones are
quite common in most organizations. Everybody ends up wasting a lot of time in
it, despite having multiple modes of communication. In this case, since the
matter was urgent, the person put in so much effort to get the marketing head’s
contact details. Otherwise, given today’s hectic work schedules, nobody would
bother. People would normally give up after the first step itself. Either way
there’s productivity loss, whether the person gives up initially or puts in all
efforts to contact the other person.

That’s where a unified communication setup becomes useful. Initially itself,
you have all the modes of communication available for reaching somebody. You
don’t need to open multiple applications or interfaces to contact others. It’s
all integrated in one single client that can send emails, do chat, establish a
VoIP or video call, send SMS, do a web conference, and much more.

How to determine the ROI
More important than deploying any technology is gaining user acceptance. Any
technology, no matter how great, is completely useless if users don’t adopt it.
So whatever communication you provide, it must be addictive. People must get
hooked to it, so much so that their life should depend upon it. The moment that
happens, you’ll get the ROI from the technology. That’s what happened to email
and Internet. That’s what happened to PSTN lines, and that’s what’s happening to
mobile phones. You look at any technology that’s all pervasive, and that’s the
sole reason for its success. Today everybody has them, and can’t live without
them. If you can generate this kind of a demand, you’ll automatically get the
ROI for it.

This of course, is easier said than done. Gaining user acceptance is not at
all easy. So you might like to try out a pilot with a few users, who’re willing
to do it. Let them use it and observe if they get addicted. If they do, then
they can be your promoters. Find out how much they’ve saved and benefited from
it, and then use them to convince others. At the same time, use the inputs to
build up a case to convince the management for a full-fledged deployment.

Building a compelling case for UC
You’ll need many more reasons to convince your management about deploying UC
than the pilot. Management is always interested in numbers. Show them the
savings, and by when will the entire system be able to pay for itself, and the
rest could be a cake walk. For instance, can the system pay for itself in terms
of the savings you make in one year? If so, then it could be a compelling
proposition. So you need to build a strong case for it, and here are a few
pointers that can be used.

Save office space: Real estate comes at a premium, and if you can some space
in the office, then you’re saving quite a bit. Unified Communication can help
people tele-commute. They don’t always have to come to office to work. Many MNCs
across the world encourage this concept, where employees can work from outside
the office. Besides office space, it also saves a lot of other costs like
electricity, maintenance of office space, etc.
Save Travel costs: This is one of the biggest budgets in every organization, and
UC can actually help cut it down drastically. That’s because all the
communication channels will be available to employees no matter where they are.
Plus, UC allows for collaboration between multiple locations. So, meetings can
be fixed up online over the web between multiple people, allowing them to
collaborate. Moreover, some UC solutions make it very easy for employees to
setup their own online meetings, and make it even easier for others to join the
conference. So it’s like the old saying, which says, “Give a man a fish and he
will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for life”. If users can
setup their own meetings, then it puts lesser burden on the IT department.

Save STD/ISD bills: Here again, since UC integrates VoIP based calls, the
phone bills are bound to come down. Even mobile users can benefit from it,
because most UC solutions have mobile clients for smartphones. So long as the
smartphone can connect to the Internet, a VoIP call can happen. One major part
of the bill in any organization is intra-office communication, or the phone
calls between the organization’s own branch offices. If this could be taken over
an organization’s existing communication links using UC, then it can lead to
considerable cost savings.

Save paper: Digital communication helps cut down the need for paper
documents. Email is already doing it. With UC, it can happen even more.
Increase productivity: Gauging the monetary value of this is not very easy, but
UC can improve productivity because employees won’t be wasting time trying to
find the best means of communicating with each other. This will lead to faster
response times, which will in turn automatically boost productivity.

The factors above do provide information on where all you can save, they
provide an overall benefit you gain from UC. This alone is not sufficient. After
this, you also need to determine which components of UC to implement, and then
drill down into how much can each individual component help you save. For
instance, how much travel cost can you save by using web conferencing; what sort
of STD bills are you generating, and how can VoIP help you reduce them; Under
what circumstances would using Instant Messaging be important, and so on.

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