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Issue Date: January 2008

AnalystWatch: Unified communications in the mid-market

January 2008
Mark Blowers, senior research analyst, Butler Group

Eurodata Systems, an IT Services organisation, recently announced that it has been able to improve staff productivity by 25% across the organisation by implementing earlier this year the new Microsoft Unified Communications solution. Using this deployment Eurodata has launched a suite of modular solutions designed specifically for the mid-market.

At the centre of the offering for the mid-market are Microsoft Exchange 2007 and Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 providing realtime interaction such as instant messaging and Voice over IP, as well as audio and video conferencing.
The solution exploits Outlook on the desktop and Windows Mobile on smartphones. Mitel provides the telephony platform and Dialogic technology is used to integrate with the existing voice system.
The integration of telephony and multimedia with Microsoft software makes possible much improved project collaboration, allowing users to better control communications and personal workflow.
Presence information is displayed anywhere an individual's name appears, meaning the availability of each team member can easily be established, and the best method of communication, be that instant messaging, e-mail, voice, or video, can be quickly ascertained.
Using Microsoft Office 2007 as the client interface enables an easy transition for users, and means that minimal training is required.
The ability to know when and how to communicate with a colleague, easy sharing of work, and having a range of mechanisms by which to do so, has been found to greatly improve employee productivity.
Analyst view
Many unified communication strategies are launched primarily in order to reap the benefits of infrastructure consolidation; reductions in operational costs, and potential improvements to service quality, for example. Although these are achievable and useful goals, the real value of unified communications will arise from business process and workflow improvement.
The solutions that integrate a range of communications mechanisms and technologies will ensure that point solutions can finally be joined up into a seamless user experience, which is particularly important when looking to improve the effectiveness of collaboration.
The availability of presence information is now a key communication capability for all sizes of organisation. The seamless integration of communication functionality within Microsoft software enables mid-sized companies to exploit productivity improvements without the need to engage in costly development or integration projects.
It is becoming increasingly important for all organisations to begin to lay the foundations for making possible the availability of common communication services, either by software upgrades or through the use of managed services. Over the next three years, Butler Group recommends that mid-sized organisations look to evolve to the use of a converged, IP-based environment, along with unified communications.
Source: Computergram


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