Unified Communications: Dialling in mobility and video

Demands from employees for mobility and flexible work spaces is driving adoption of unified communications solutions in the New Zealand market – Heather Wright dials in the views of local experts.

Communication – both internal and external – may be critical for pretty much every business, but it is mobility which is proving to be a key driver for unified communications in New Zealand at the moment.

Danny Meadows, Westcon New Zealand vendor business manager for unified communications says demand for unified communications is high, with end users driving the technology uptake.

“There are two key areas firing up, and one is mobility for end users,” Meadows, who handles Avaya, Jabra and Active Communications for Westcon, says.

“Any business with outbound sales staff is a key target for mobility. If those staff are at their desk, you could argue that it’s wasted time,” Meadows says.

As a user of UC, Meadows says he finds it invaluable that he can see live presence, and that others can see whether he’s in a meeting, travelling to a meeting – and therefore potentially able to be interrupted – and so forth. “It allows far better use of my time,” he adds.

But mobility is about more than just straight-out efficiency. Meadows says with competition for valuable employees hotting up, the ability to offer flexible working conditions – working from home part of the time for example – is becoming increasingly important.

“Those two topics are number one: mobility and flexibility,” Meadows says.

Frazer Scott, Microsoft New Zealand director of marketing and operations, agrees. He says as companies recruit younger generations, flexible work styles – or as Scott refers to it, ‘the modern work space’ – is what is expected, and that requires solid unified communications.

Employees expect to be able to work outside the office, seamlessly. Adds Tom Batcheler, Microsoft product marketing manager in the Office business, “It’s part of a much larger conversation around working from anywhere.”

Scott says Microsoft is seeing a lot of New Zealand organisations ‘rapidly embracing unified communications or very keen to embrace it’.

“The consumerisation of IT is driving integration of mobile technologies and allowing us wot work anywhere, anytime, really empowered by UC. It’s a big growth area for us.”

Scott notes that New Zealand is one of Microsoft’s leading countries worldwide for Lync adoption. “We’re seeing cut through from the very largest enterprises to small start ups.”

Batcheler adds that the ultimate vision is a completely seamless unified experiences over every device, where users can not only communicate via voice, IM or video, and see presence, but also collaborate, sharing desktop screens to mobile devices and so on, without the need to call up phone numbers, mobile numbers, email addresses.

“Swapping business cards is so antiquated,” Scott quips. “It’s about multi-faceted presence, and being able to connect wherever in the world you are.”

For Part Two, check back to The Channel on Wednesday

This article was originally published in the March issue of The Channel magazine, click here for more details

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