Two days ago, we asked both business managers and IT managers about how much they had unified their various communications services. Based on the responses to the polls, very few have integrated some combination of voice, fax, email, video conferencing or instant messaging services.
The majority of respondents--62 percent of business and 45 percent of IT managers--said they have a completely un-integrated system. Only 7 percent of business managers and 18 percent of IT managers said they have a fully integrated system. However, more than twice as many IT managers than business managers told us they have an integrated system.
This isn't really surprising; achieving unified communications is less simple than advertising might lead you to believe, and there isn't generally a single box to buy that lets you easily put everything together. Even systems billed as "unified communications in a box" mostly consist of a Voice-over IP (VoIP) product.
However, once you're using VoIP, you've accomplished one big hurdle of integrating an existing private branch exchange (PBX) system with a data network. Adding in all the other pieces takes effort, and you'll need to train your employees on the new system.
Still, the results are worth the effort. Not only will you reduce your phone bills, but you'll also help your employees to respond to requests from coworkers, partners, and customers, decreasing administrative overhead. Even the smallest companies can use a hosted system from a telecommunications carrier, such as AT&T or Verizon, to provide the same degree of integration for a reasonable monthly fee.
Twenty-nine people voted in the poll of business managers, and 22 voted in the IT managers poll.