Unified Communications Featured Article

How UC Drives Business Value

August 27, 2013

ITEXPO Las Vegas has officially kicked off and is in full swing. In the first session on the case study U track, we heard how a school district, a waste management services company and a public utility and electric services company all benefit from unified communications.

Steve Hope from the Mountain View-Los Altos Union school district, William Olsen from the IT&T department at NV Energy, and Doug Sanders from Republic Services participated in a panel session, “UC Deployments: Overcoming the Final Hurdles to Move Mainstream,” to discuss why they decided to turn to UC, what challenges they had to overcome and what makes UC a valuable business asset.

For Hope, being able to deliver phone to e-mail transcription meant improved staff-parent communication and in turn, increased parent satisfaction, is what initially drove the school district to look at UC. It was important for the school district to deliver a common experience for all of the parents so there was the same methodology to access staff across the board. The biggest challenge, he said, was having to replace all of the phones at one time and have the new ones and up and running the next day.

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With numerous geographic locations and 500 different types of phone systems, Republic Services was looking for a way to standardizing its telephony system. While Sanders noted that the technical part of deploying VoIP and adding UC capabilities was fairly simple, getting the business involved was a major challenge.

“It’s not just seeing this as an IT project, but as a business project,” he said.

Olsen explained the main motivation that drove his department to turn to UC was to integrate infrastructure and making business processes easier and faster. The biggest benefits UC brought were the increased collaboration and efficiency. He explained that to get everyone on board – from end users to C-level executives and employees – the emphasis during training should be on the “why” instead of the “how.” If you start to showcase use cases and make users understand how they can improve processes with these UC capabilities, they will catch on to the vision and get just as excited about moving forward with these new technologies.

ROI Goes Beyond Cost Savings

Implementing UC can deliver immediate cost savings – from saving on maintenance, different hardware contracts and travel costs, there are many different ways organizations can reduce their spend. But the benefits of UC go beyond just direct cost savings.

For the Mountain View-Los Altos Union school district, those included the improved efficiency of staff and ability for the community to communicate with the school district. For the district’s four IT guys that support more than 1,000 devices, the ROI was seen in the fact that it takes less staff time to maintain the system, it’s easy for them to manage and there are no more hectic maintenance contracts because the IT department can do that in-house.

“These make it a no-brainer for the school system – it’s money we can now spend on education instead of hardware or maintenance costs,” Hope said.

For Republic Services, in addition to benefits like reduced travel costs and time, one huge area that stood out was the customer experience. Sanders explained that the company now has a centralized management of what is going on in customer service for everything from abandonment rates and average talk time, which help with training agents and therefore selling better. As performance improves, revenue increases.

Olsen said IT&T is focusing not so much on ROI but on UC as a business necessity. “It’s kind of like the phone,” he said. How do you measure ROI on having a phone in your organization? It makes you operate better, implement best practices and ultimately become more efficient.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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