Audrey William, senior research manager for Frost & Sullivan, said that organisations currently offered mixed levels of UC services to their staff.These services included communications tools such as telephony, UM, conferencing, email, instant messaging and mobile access.She cited a recent Frost & Sullivan survey of 365 CIOs and IT managers, which revealed that 73 per cent of companies offer mobility solutions such as push mail to their staff.Looking towards the future, William said that there were three likely effects of the economic downturn. First, there would be cautious spending in several verticals including the banking and financial service sectors.Second, organisations would look to invest in UC applications to help reduce costs. Finally, large-scale IT projects and rip-and-replace legacy system investments would be put on hold.Further, when businesses were asked why they would go ahead with a UC deployment, the growth drivers were cost savings (74 per cent) and improving efficiency (72 per cent). Improving existing business practices rated just 36 per cent.The biggest challenges in the Australian UC market were a lack of trained and certified UC solution specialists that understand voice, desktop network integration and Web 2.0 applications.Looking towards 2009, Williams predicted that the increasing participants in the UC market would be IP telephony / voice players from the SMB market, Web 2.0 application vendors, mobile players (RIM, Nokia, Google, Apple, etc) and contact centre vendors.Within the SMB market in 2009, William predicted that UC traction would be mixed. William said that email and voice applications, bundled with mobile solutions, would help to drive adoption. Ultimately, though, price would determine uptake, and it would be difficult to justify ROI for other UC applications.“When we surveyed people earlier this year,” said William, “we asked them what UC services they would have, and they all said, ‘All we really need are email and voice apps.’”
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