Unified Communications: Cost-Effective and Convenient | Article

Wipro Voice: A Conversation with K N Narasinga Rao, General Manager, Innovation and Technology, Member Wipro Council for Industry Research

K N Narasinga Rao, General Manager, WiproUntil recently, communication has been one of the most frustrating aspects of work. Phone tag, ignored e-mails, text messages: How do you find a colleague when you really need him?

Now there’s an easy way to find a manager who must make an important and time-sensitive decision. You go to your computer, access an application, then right click on the colleague’s name. The software determines his availability. Is he in a meeting? Away for lunch? You’ll know immediately. What’s the best way to reach him? The application answers that question too and connects you, if doable.

This is possible through the use of Unified Communications (UC), which allows all modes of communication to flow from a single pane on a user’s computer, increasing productivity. In addition, Unified Communications eliminates the need for multiple telecom applications or equipment – eliminating the need to invest in multiple infrastructures.

“Unified Communications makes communicating convenient,” says Narasinga Rao, General Manager, Innovation and Technology. “Companies benefit by becoming more agile. The bottom line: they have better response times for business events.”

Cost savings are a major driver

Cost is a major driver. Ten years ago, enterprises ran their communications using time-division multiplexing (TDM) networks with e-mail on an Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructure. For some time, companies had to maintain two separate networks for voice and data. Now they can put their telephony on the IP network. “You generate significant savings when you use one infrastructure to service both needs,” Rao reports.

After this integration, the Wipro executive says major vendors are offering products to optimize the infrastructure. The industry uses a concept called Communication-Enabled Business Process (CEBP) to integrate business applications with the new communications infrastructure. “CEBP helps enterprises leverage their infrastructure investment,” he says.

For example, there are tools to share documents on the desktop or set up HD video conferencing for team collaboration. “Companies have cut travel budgets during this economic slowdown,” says Rao. “These tools increase business agility when teams can’t work together in one location.”

In addition, these products can integrate SAP, Oracle, or SalesForce.com into desktop workflows. For example, team members can raise a request on the system; even if the approving authority is in a meeting, he can approve the request through his mode of choice – e-mail, IM, SMS, etc. “You don’t have to wait to get the job done,” says Rao.

Unified Communication also cuts down on the all-too-human trait of procrastinating. UC makes it convenient for employees to instantly invoke different modes of communication from a single client instead of having to reach out to multiple devices. “People tend to be more responsive using unified communication tools,” Rao observes.

Enterprises can integrate communications into both horizontal and vertical applications. Many companies typically have their workflows in applications that address business needs. When they integrate these applications with the unified communications infrastructure through APIs, employees seem to get business results faster, Rao observes.

Enterprise challenges

Rao says Wipro has completed more than 50 installations of unified communications across the globe. It has working partnerships with major vendors. In addition, it helps them with product development to develop applications and tools to meet future needs. Wipro currently has 215 research and development staffers in the UC area, according to Rao.

He notes enterprises often have challenges with leveraging existing investments on an already installed base. They need help putting together a business case that demonstrates an effective return on investment for UC. Finally, the Wipro executive says some enterprises have challenges if they introduce the new technologies too quickly. “Rapid churn in technologies results in a struggle to align with an appropriate communications vision,” he observes.

Future trends

Companies can purchase UC as a service (UCaaS) through portals run by service providers and systems integrators. “UC as a service allows companies to save on both their capital and operating expenses. In addition, they can scale on the fly since the provider has the capability to handle demand,” says Rao.

For example, Wipro plans to become part of an online UCaaS offering. “Users can select features online that the provider delivers through cloud infrastructure,” Rao explains. This offering will be available in North America through Infocrossing, a Wipro subsidiary.

Finally, mobile UC is an up-and-coming trend, says the Wipro executive. It enables WiFi-based dual-mode handsets to become part of the unified communications ecosystem. “Then the company can benefit from a find-me, follow-me, and single-number reach convenience.”

Rao says companies report single-number reach is particularly valuable to companies since salespeople who move from company to company may carry competing business with them by way of their personal phone numbers listed on their previous business cards. “It protects the company’s business because all their sales are tied to their company landlines, thereby not revealing the salesperson’s mobile/personal contacts,” notes the Wipro executive.

Ever since James Bond had telephones hidden in the coolest places, people have been fascinated with the possibilities of telephony. Thanks to Unified Communications, they are now within the realm of possibility for any business. In today’s global economy, this couldn’t happen soon enough.

How do you get started?

Wipro provides a full life cycle service. Its specialists will come up with a business case, prepare an RFP, implement the project, and even run it for the client.

Lessons from the Business Journal:

  • Unified Communications makes communications convenient because users can track down colleagues from a single pane on their computers
  • Cost is a major outsourcing driver because companies can use one network for both voice and data
  • Businesses report productivity increases and better response times when they use unified communications
  • Challenges to installing a UC network include leveraging existing investments, preparing a business case with the necessary return on investment and rapid churn in technologies
  • With mobile UC, employees can have a single number that consummates the “find-me, follow-me” concept with all desktop client interfaces made available on mobile phones
  • UCaaS and mobile UC are two new reasons to outsource UC

Wipro set up the Council for Industry Research, comprised of domain and technology experts from the organization, to address the needs of customers. It specifically looks at innovative strategies that will help customers gain competitive advantage in the market. The Council, in collaboration with leading academic institutions and industry bodies, studies market trends to equip organizations with insights that facilitate their IT and business strategies. For more information on the Research Council visit www.wipro.com/industryresearch or e-mail [email protected]

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