Unified communications forum – November 2012

h2index hosted the latest unified communications (UC) forum at Shell in London on 15th November 2012. Seven large multinationals attended representing a range of industries including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, energy, consumer goods, finance and entertainment.

UC is clearly changing the way people work and underpinning radically new business processes. Microsoft Lync and/or Office Communications Server (OCS) are used by all the companies for instant messaging and presence. There was a palpable air of anticipation about the release of Lync 2013. It has many new features; will it live up to expectations?

These platforms are beginning to encroach upon traditional telephony and are being integrated into the many forms of video conferencing available, for example:

Users are being gently weaned away from their desktop telephone: many reported that their first step is to integrate Lync/OCS with the established phone systems. Once this is complete, they slowly remove the desktop phones.

Attendees reported huge cost savings: one user reports an early UC implementation where there was a 40% reduction in telephony costs at a time when the user base increased by 50%. This user is now rolling out the new UC system across the organisation as fast as possible.

All the businesses run a mixture of video conferencing:

  • immersive telepresence – for the privileged few
  • video conference rooms – usually at least one on each site
  • personal video – on the desk and mobile devices

These systems are currently virtually totally separate, but it’s no good having a totally immersive telepresence meeting if the key person can only access a personal video. Firstly some people will find the disparity in video quality off-putting. Secondly the two systems might not be able to connect at all.

One solution is a box interconnecting the strata, but why would you want to maintain the technology and skills necessary for this old technology? Alternatively there are solutions emerging in the cloud allowing the interconnection with any facility, which tantalisingly includes external partners’ video conferencing.

A summary of the forum’s discussions is available here.

The unified communications forum meets twice a year and the next meeting will be in Amsterdam in April 2013. We work hard to ensure that the organizations in any one forum are of similar scale, face similar issues, and involve senior representatives directly responsible for the specific topic. If you would like to join any of our forums, please contact us.