Building the Business Case for Unified Communications

Building the Business Case for Unified Communications

Tim Stone of Cisco

How do you position Unified Communications as a must-have for your customers? Sure, the efficiency and productivity benefits that come from combining all a customer’s various communications channels onto a single platform seem to make perfect sense on paper.

But if your customer has been able to get this far without Unified

Communications, they may well believe that they can continue to do very well without it. In selling Unified Communications, it is important to use all means available to help build a business case for both the technology and associated services. To demonstrate, here are a few areas for consideration.

Cisco and our partners have conducted literally hundreds of return on investment (ROI) calculations for our customers and the benefits of Unified Communications fall broadly into 3 categories.

Firstly, cost savings – building an IP Telephony system can significantly reduce the cost of ownership, typically in the 5 to 30 percent-depending on customer specifics.

The second and third categories of employee productivity and business transformation become harder to calculate as they are ‘soft benefits’ but are equally important. Employee productivity includes helping employees contact the right resource the first time using mobility and presence plus using collaboration tools such as unified messaging audio/video/web conferencing and video telephony to save time and speed up projects.

The third area of business transformation is where Unified Communications becomes really exciting – where new applications enable new business models and changes ways of working

Here are some customer examples from around the world that demonstrate different types of Unified Communications deployments and the benefits received:

Hillingdon Council in Greater London, has made significant savings by deploying Unified Communications. The savings mainly centred around reduced office space, reduced travel costs and by allowing 200 staff including call centre agents to work from home or remotely.

The City of Maastricht has deployed 900 Nokia Dual Mode phones in their new offices connected to their Cisco Unified Communications system, providing complete mobility in their new offices and for mobile workers, whilst still providing the benefits of PBX-type features making their staff more efficient.

In the finance sector, some banks have piloted a business transformational project with dramatic results. They expect to increase customer capture rates by 7-9%. The concept is simple; when a customer enters a branch or calls up, the bank employee may not have the banking or language skills to answer the request, by using presence the customer is immediately put in contact with the right resource anywhere on the network face-to-face through video.

The benefits found not only saved money but were also beneficial for the environment, in helping to reduce levels of commuting and office power consumption.

Clearly, these examples provide just a flavour of what Unified Communications is capable of. And alongside the business benefits to your customers, there is a host of opportunities for the channel.

First, of course, there is the need to provide the Unified Communications technology itself. Depending on the customer, this could equate to demand for IP Contact Centre software, IP phones, dual-mode handsets and a range of routers and switches, plus more.

In addition, where Unified Communications is being used to facilitate home working, then a range of home office equipment, including computers, printers, scanners and other peripherals can be added into the package.

With these, the customer will need a range of associated applications and/or devices to ensure security and connectivity, including DSL line installation, firewalls, antivirus software, home wireless networks and more.

As an alternative, of course, these can be offered as managed services which will incorporate hosted backup facilities. There may even be opportunities for staff training and other services.

To get the ball rolling, talk to your customers about what other organisations are doing with Unified Communications and use these examples to help build a case around how Unified Communications can benefit their business.