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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Start UC Planning With " Business Performance ROI" (BPR)

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ãCopyright 2009, The Unified-View – All rights reserved worldwide

August 26, 2009

UC “Performance ROI” – Find The ”Why” and “Who” First!

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

A recent article on NetworkWorld complains that “ROI doesn’t always pan out with unified communications” because it is hard to calculate the cost savings of UC. The article also quotes a Forrester survey of IT managers where about half say they don’t see the business value to deploy UC this year. One IT manager, who actually implemented UC applications in his organization, still complained that it is difficult to quantify the cost-saving value of the “UC stuff.”

Cost Savings – “Is That All There Is?”

In these hectic economic times, the challenge for cost savings has heightened for IT management and CFOs, but there are other business performance objectives as well, i.e., generate revenues faster, minimize losses that can result from missed deadlines or slow responses to emergencies.

A new white paper sponsored by Avaya, a leading provider of traditional telephony technology, reflects an increasing shift of enterprise UC marketing focus from traditional IT management’s concern with infrastructure technology support and cost reductions. The new starting point for UC planning begins with two areas of operational business productivity that IT doesn’t have direct responsibility for:

1. Business process performance and it’s dependencies on flexible contact with people

2. Individual end user task performance and work environment dependencies upon flexible communications accessibility and responsiveness

Both of these UC productivity metrics, labeled by my colleagues at, as UC-Business Process (UC-B) and UC-User Productivity (UC-U), are key to determining the priorities and choice of UC implementation needs, before IT can jump in with cost saving considerations. To maximize UC-B results, UC-U capabilities must be included.

The inherent variability between different business processes and individual end user job responsibilities means that there can’t be “one UC size fits all.” This variance will especially increase as traditional “person-to-person” voice conversational activities shift from fixed desktops to mobile devices, real-time text messaging, and “process-to-person” notifications and proactive application contacts.

Avaya’s White Paper on The UC “Secret Ingredient”

By contrast to the technology market’s traditional approach to “ROI,” the white paper sponsored by Avaya targets the business management audience, not just IT. Avaya, a dominant telephone system hardware company that has already moved into IP Telephony software, is apparently moving further up the food chain to aggressively compete with third-party consultancies to provide the necessary operational analysis for all elements of UC (not just telephony). This reflects both the complexities of multi-modal UC and implementation alternatives, as well as the current lack of in-house enterprise expertise that is contributing to the delay in enterprise UC adoption described in the Forrester market study.

The “Secret Ingredient” for maximizing UC business value described in the white paper relies on exploiting “professional services” to first determine the value priorities for the “why”” and the “who” of business operational changes that UC applications will enable. Such consulting services are needed to help objectively identify and analyze high-value communication problems or “hot spots” in current business operations that UC solutions can minimize or eliminate.

“Hot Spot” is simply another label for significant “human latency” in a business process caused by communication delays that can impact process performance and results, e.g., missed deadlines, increased overhead, loss of a customer, loss of life, etc. It applies to any important delay or inefficiency that stems from involving communication with people, either as “contact initiators” or as “contact recipients/respondents.” It also means that it includes time-sensitive contacts that are initiated by an automated business process application (“process-to-person” message notifications), not just “person-to-person” contacts.

Most significantly, however, the Avaya white paper acknowledges the increasing importance of all real-time and near-real-time contacts, not just voice conversations, as essential to mobile accessibility and business process performance efficiency and effectiveness.

Nothing Really New!

Of course, Avaya’s new positioning is nothing really new. My colleagues and I at UC Strategies and UniComm Consulting, have long advocated the view that unified communications is not just about moving TDM telephony to IP Telephony and VoIP for cost-savings, nor even to mobile phones for greater voice accessibility. More fundamentally, UC involves the flexible and effective use of all forms of communication with people - anywhere, anyway, any time.

The challenge for bringing UC efficiencies for people into high-value business processes lies in two areas of communication contact:

1. Accessibility

2. Availability

While mobile communications and flexible choice of medium will increase an end user’s ability to initiate a business contact, initiation “accessibility,” it will not necessarily increase a contact recipient’s “availability” or change in business process priorities. For this reason, the traditional telephony notion of immediate, interruptive real-time contacts has to be updated to allow for near-real-time options and more practical “as soon as possible” (ASAP) real-time connections

What Do You Think?

You can contact me at: or (310) 395-2360.