There is an increasing pressure on IT departments because their budgets are shrinking. This pressure has always been there but it definitely seems greater than it has been in the past. Although the cost for implementing video is falling, it is becoming a bigger part of the overall UC investment budget for organisations. Here are some of the factors that I have seen influencing customers who are considering investment in UC – in particular video.
There is usually a primary consideration of purchasing a new video solution, which is the key driver for decision-making. Frequently there are secondary factors as well that play an equally important role in options assessment. One of the other key points that customers consider when choosing endpoints, either physical or virtual, is whether they could achieve any productivity improvement benefits from the deployment. E.g., would they be able to improve time-to-market, project implementation, decision-making process, work-life balance for better retaining staff, or, fulfilment of business’ geographic expansion needs.
Answering these and many more similar questions will define the endpoint and infrastructure choices they make.
Probably the most dominant of factors, is the financial benefit and the ROI expected from the investment. But how can customers measure and predict the ROI?
In order to calculate the success in relation to the desired benefits, some customers choose to measure the notional effects of voice or video collaboration calls – who would have travelled to see whom and how? A model could be built based on the usage of the installed base if raw data could be extracted, to closely estimate savings per ‘standard’ types of meeting. This can then be extrapolated for the whole organisation.
So having made the investment, how do you prove to the CFO that the savings are real or that they can be further improved? Thinking ahead and purchasing a professional services package for after-sales support and analytics for the new end-points will ensure that the ROI of the UC service is optimum, analysed and interpreted from utilisation of all devices across the infrastructure.
A very common situation for most organisations is that they find themselves already owning some UC technology and looking for the best ways of expanding it in an economically feasible way. For example, customers might already have Microsoft Skype for Business and a voice platform in place and want to either unify, reduce or video-enable their communications environments for workflows. Polycom ensures interoperability with all different industry solutions. This strength allows organisations to implement a ‘best of breed’ solution and maximise productivity to achieve the desired ROI expectations from the UC deployment!
In addition, on closer inspection of vertical markets, it is evident that that ROI of the technology there are many business benefits that are driven by the collaboration technology which account towards the overall savings.
Let’s take a look at the manufacturing industry. These organisations know that they can shave days or even weeks from their manufacturing & logistic schedules when they use collaboration technology. This is particularly true for Western design/ development with Eastern manufacture and logistics fulfilment. In the fashion industry the potential impact of missing a retailer’s deadline is a reduced payment or even cancellation of the entire order.
The costs associated with maintaining production environments are frequently high but the financial consequences of downtime are even higher and can be in the range of thousands of dollars per minute of lost time e.g. in Oil & gas extraction. With video collaboration in the production environment, the first responder doesn’t have to be skilled at fault diagnosis as the experts can join virtually from anywhere to provide advice and recover production rapidly.
In the pharmaceutical industry, being first to market a new product is worth a lot of money in the lifetime of the drug patent. Getting people together, share information and accelerate development of a new treatment or at the latter end of the project to achieve faster compliance e.g. FDA approval, will provide major financial advantage for many businesses and therefore using collaboration technology is critical for business.
Another interesting example relates to call centres. CRM systems are a major part of many B2B and B2C organisations but only a few are video enabled. Could that be changing? I saw a recent example in the car rental sector where video kiosks were supporting the workflow by connecting to a centralised multi-lingual centre and additional equipments such as scanners and printers were included in the customer-facing centres. Video helped preserve the face-to-face agent/ customer workflow and allowed identity-proof documents to be checked visually in real-time, meaning the contracts were printed then and there for the customers too. High skill agents were now shared across multiple locations – this is a good ROI of video collaboration technology!
In my experience, spending time upfront in fully understanding the organisational requirements and taking advantage of professional services to help scope, define and design UC services is money well spent. The adoption and usage will be fast and therefore the ROI could be achieved more quickly.