Let’s add one more entry to the list of really good reasons to embrace Unified Communications. It’s a great way to help make your company greener, helping the environment and saving money at the same time.
A recent Frost & Sullivan Market Insight says the overall “Green IT” trend is likely to be a key factor in the adoption of UC, despite the fact that with the economic recession still hanging on, fewer companies are currently making “green” the priority it had been before the downturn.
Still, Frost analyst Dorota Oviedo says, telepresence and conferencing tools are one area where there is significant enterprise interest regardless of the economy. These, she says, “offer virtual meeting alternatives that reduce the necessity of traditional face-to-face contact. Collaboration features, in addition to the integration with voice and data networks, as well as other business applications allow for significant productivity enhancements. Telepresence solutions create a lifelike experience among meeting participants.”
She also says more and more companies are recognizing the benefits of teleworking, increasingly offering employees the option to work outside the traditional office.
“The companies that are actively pursuing a green strategy understand that letting employees work from home (or close to home) not only contributes to lowering CO2 emissions, but also brings direct benefits to the company, like increasing employee satisfaction, decreasing employee turnover, and attracting highly qualified professionals who may not live in a reasonable daily commuting distance. Advances in technology and introduction of new collaborative applications facilitate teleworking while keeping the virtual workforce productive.”
When you start tallying the ways UC can contribute to the environment, you can also see how it helps the bottom line, too. The employees who are working at home, for instance, are burning less gasoline thanks to their non-commute, but the company also doesn’t have to provide office space for them, either. In Sprint’s own case, our UC implementation has made it possible for 4,000 employees to efficiently work outside the office and helped us eliminate more than a million square feet of office space, with its associated real estate, power, and other costs.
Another example: SIP Trunking, as a foundation of UC, converges all communication onto a single link, streamlining the network and enabling the elimination of local telco trunks. Where’s the environmental benefit there, you ask? Well, pointing again to Sprint’s own experience, we have eliminated hundreds of PBXs in favor of SIP trunks. A study last year found that we achieved a 98 percent reduction in power usage as a result. The SIP Trunking system uses only 237,600 kilowatt hours per year, compared with 13.5 million kilowatt hours for the 489 PBXs that used to be the core of our enterprise network.
The important thing is that UC has matured to a point where people working outside the office don’t have to feel like they’re coping with second-class tools. With their headset and laptop, plus a good wireless or wired connection, they are just as effective as in a corporate office, especially with all the collaboration and presence tools UC offers. They can start with IMs or texts and easily click their way into multi-party, collaborative meetings with their peers, and do it more effectively than if they went cubicle-to-cubicle at headquarters rounding up those same people.
Green … is good (apologies to Gordon Gekko), but we all realize that companies won’t embrace green solutions if they don’t either improve productivity or reduce costs. UC hits the trifecta: more productivity, lower costs, and environmental benefits.