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UCStrategies.com defines unified communications as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.” The definition of unified communications narrows significantly when you can read and hear about real-world examples that other companies are implementing right now—and apply them to your situation.
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This section provides a practical, vendor-independent service to any Enterprise that is seeking the benefits of Unified Communications. How do you pull everything together to implement unified communications? Use the tools in this sequence to define unified communications for your business.
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In my last post in this series, I raised some questions about the role of video and how the channel can define value for clients. That’s a long conversation, and in these posts I’m just trying to seed some ideas. If you’re attending the UC Summit in about two weeks, that will be a great place to have that conversation, and I’ll be happy to oblige during the breaks or at the bar.
I’ve got some new ideas to seed here about video. The business value of video can be quantified to varying degrees, but many aspects cannot. Actually, the measurable elements are pretty subjective, which presents an opportunity for the channel to devise some metrics that the business will easily understand. Unlike telephony, most video deployments – especially if part of a UC solution – will be new, which means there isn’t a baseline cost structure against which IP-based video can deliver immediate savings.
There certainly will be cases where existing legacy video systems are in place, but direct comparisons against IP video are tricky. Legacy systems will likely continue being used if there’s a major sunk cost, so IP video will more likely supplement this option instead of replacing it. As such, businesses would continue operating legacy video, but IP versions would serve to make video accessible to a broader base of users.
In that regard, the business case for video is more complex than with voice. When migrating from TDM to VoIP, all employees are already using voice, so the installed base is the same for both scenarios. With IP-based video, businesses will be adding a lot of first-time users, so there may not be a net cost savings right away.
Also, with video being relatively new within the realm of UC, many of the benefits will be highly subjective and perhaps impossible to measure. The rich QoE that comes with video – Quality of Experience – is evident right away, but reliable metrics have not emerged yet that can measure this in a meaningful way for the business. As such, emotion plays a key role for your clients when deciding just how much video they want to bring under the UC tent.
That emotional element brings me to something more relevant to your business – how are you going to monetize video? With so many options for businesses to use video now – many of which are free and beyond the realm of UC – your clients will deploy video one way or another. Clearly, you have limited potential at best to monetize video usage that is completely under the wing of end users. Whether it’s Skype or FaceTime, these popular applications will find their way into business conversations.
There’s not much you can do about that, but you can add value for clients by articulating the limitations of using consumer-based applications for business – and conversely, how IT has more control and accountability when video is used in-house, especially as part of UC.
In terms of monetizing video, you can make a bit of money selling video systems and peripherals, but unless you’re focused on high end telepresence, you shouldn’t expect much on the hardware side. There might be some money to be made from software licenses or hosted video subscriptions, but the channel doesn’t bring much value for this. The better opportunity will likely come from your expertise in integrating the various video elements within a UC framework. Your best defense for mitigating the appeal of free, off-net video applications is to make the LAN-based video environment rock solid. This means delivering an intuitive end user experience that is on par with consumer applications, along with a seamless integration of video with other UC modes that makes IT’s job easier.
Keeping both parties happy for video will be a challenge, but there’s a lot of latitude for the channel to add value. Longer term, it may be more important for you to strike that balance with UC than making money from selling video solutions. As mentioned, video is an emotional medium, and if you can enable a great user experience, that should open up other avenues to make money with UC.
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
Uses presence capabilities for coordination, and presents a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.
Learn more at What is Unified Communications all about?