This is the third post in a series from Dimension Data and Cisco Channels looking at user adoption and integration of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions. Findings stem from Dimension Data’s 2013 Global UC&C Survey, developed with ICT researcher Ovum and featuring responses from more than 2,700 participants in 18 countries across 20 vertical industries.

In a previous blog post based on this research, we heard that selling UC&C solutions had to be less about ‘flashy’ technology and more about a productive user experience. In this latest entry, Gavin Hill, Technology Director for Unified Communications and Networking at Dimension Data spoke with us about the evidence that the implementation of some technologies is no longer the end goal in UC&C but have become a ‘ticket to the game’.

“Part of the reason we ran the survey, was to find out what buyers and end-users thought would have the biggest influence on the UC&C landscape going forward. From the survey results, it was evident that video, instant messaging and presence weren’t considered priorities anymore,” said Hill.

He went on to explain, “From what we see in this space everyday, we believe that organizations now expect these capabilities to be embedded in UC&C technologies as a standard. 

According to Hill, most organizations have embraced video and instant messaging in some form already, and while there may be future enhancements in that space, he doesn’t see them as big motivators for future investment either unless they can tangibly improve user experience and productivity.

“That second ‘C’ in UC&C is often forgotten. The industry focuses heavily on unified communication but tends to forget that collaboration is the ultimate goal. Our research shows that social technologies will play a significant role in collaboration, and that these have become an area of investment for many companies instead,” said Hill.

Hill also noted the process of embedding social collaboration in the enterprise is not about purchasing a platform. It’s about how employees and customers use it to save time, reduce latency and increase productivity. To use social technologies effectively, end-customer and employee feedback should be used to shape the implementation.

The real value in Hill’s mind is the reduced latency that is enabled by true collaboration. Instead of having to go into another system to find someone in a directory and then set up a separate meeting, users can immediately join an instant messaging or video conversation. Hill feels that keeping that instant feedback tightly integrated into your planning is key to making UC&C successful.


Hill pointed out that cloud is already high on respondents’ lists of what will have the biggest impact on enterprise communications during the next three years. With that future focus on cloud, organizations will likely start to choose hybrid UC&C solutions that see the commoditized elements consumed from the cloud while areas tightly integrated to the organization’s business processes, or are custom developed, will stay on-premise..

According to Hill, “For example, you can find dial tone or access to the telco networks as cheaply as possible and don’t necessarily want to own that or try to run it yourself. In contrast, things like communications-enabled business processes that are specific to your organization, you might want to maintain control of to continue differentiation.”

As evidenced by the chart’s 37 percent respondent rate, cloud was far and away the leader in the survey. However, Hill stressed the importance of not discounting the 22 percent of respondents focused on virtualization.

“Virtualization is still significant and it is a step toward cloud. Virtualization of communications is now widely available. It may not be as ‘sexy’ as cloud, but it can offer almost immediate impact and cost savings and in many cases it is easy to implement quickly,” said Hill.

The three key takeaways for partners:

  1. Video, instant messaging and presence have become tickets to the game. They have to be part of what you deploy today.
  2. Consider social components and access to those tools as a blended solution. They must be available on all devices.
  3. Be ready for virtualization and cloud. Make investments today that allow you to take a step toward virtualization and subsequently to cloud.

Check back with Cisco and Dimension Data next month for a continued discussion on this research. In the meantime, learn more about Dimension Data’s 2013 Global UC&C study. And don’t forget to join the conversation; leave a comment below or talk to us on Dimension Data’s UC&C Facebook page.



Anna Sui

Social Media Strategist

Global Partner Marketing, Cisco