Building a strong business case for unified communications (UC) can be difficult for CIOs and IT leaders, said IDC.
IDC Australia's associate research director, Dustin Kehoe, said difficulty in articulating and measuring the direct benefits of UC are the main reasons why CIOs may struggle to make a strong business case.
"It's very hard to articulate when you're speaking in just pure ROI terms or cost saving terms or lowering your TCO how adding features like IM and Presence are going to save the business money." he said. "It's sometimes not designed to do that, it's sometimes designed to increase productivity.
"What happens in the first wave of this is everyone, vendors especially are very guilty of this, they talk about productivity -- this will reduce human latency times and increase productivity. How in the world do you measure productivity in a dollars and cents business case? Sometimes a cynical CFO might say, 'Well, fire someone if you want to increase productivity'."
He gave an example where productivity benefits such as faster customer response times could be measured to help show how UC can have direct benefits for the business.
"Let's say I'm in a contact center environment and I need to make sure I resolve X amount of issues with customers. I can now start to measure that if I'm able to bring up a unified communication environment where I would have the totality of the interactions with my company all on a single screen.
"I could pull up all of your records, I can make the changes that you need done [such as] cancelling a service and subscribing to something else and I can resolve that faster... That's how UC can be used for competitive advantage. That's where the next level is kind of heading."
In addition, Kehoe outlined where most UC projects go wrong and what CIOs should be focusing on to help ensure a successful UC project.
"Most UC projects fail if you're trying to throw all the bells and whistles, application integration, mobility, SharePoint, voice integration [in at once]. If you try to throw in too much too quickly and you don't have a kind of phased approach with measured KPIs over time, then these are the projects that are most likely to fail."
Measuring the outcomes is the key to success for UC projects, he said.
"Look at a few point areas and measure outcomes to a defined timeline. That's what is going to increase your chances of success."
A lack of internal communications is another area where CIOs go wrong in UC projects, according to Kehoe.
"Internal communications -- that is often what really lacks with a lot of CIOs with regard to these transformation projects is the internal communications dynamic."
He said CIOs need to keep executives, line of business leaders and end users informed on what is being done from the project and the benefits they can expect to achieve out if it.