Nearly half of all businesses have a unified communications (UC) strategy, but the majority are missing a trick by not including presence technology, according to IT services provider Dimension Data.
A study by research firm Vanson Bourne on behalf of Dimension Data found that companies are turning to UC to help cut costs and improve productivity in a tough economic climate.
UC helps to integrate most communication channels, including voice, email, fax, instant messaging, video-conferencing and web collaboration, through a single user-interface. The inclusion of presence allows end-users to display integrated real-time information on availability and the ability to communicate.
By not including a presence strategy, Dimension Data believes that many organisations are in danger of missing out on the full benefits of UC, or adding unnecessary complexity to their communications.
"Without presence, businesses risk making it more difficult for employees to manage their communications, ultimately diminishing the return on a UC investment," said Rob Stanley, line of business director for Microsoft solutions at Dimension Data.
"UC is all about making business interactions simple, while increasing the numbers of communication channels available. If properly implemented this will reduce travel costs, improve productivity and engender higher degrees of collaboration.
"Presence is arguably the key component of a successful UC strategy as it brings it all together from an end-user point of view."
The report concludes that, for presence and UC to work optimally across what is usually a complex IT and communications environment, simplified and centralised management of multiple user-identities is necessary.
This also improves security through single, real-time updates on employee access rights and permissions, according to Dimension Data.
Figures from In-Stat and Wainhouse Research suggest that the entire UC products and services market was worth $22.6bn (£15.1bn) in 2007, growing to $48.7bn (£32.5bn) by 2012.
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