Unified communications and cloud-based services

We've been discussing a pair of our State-of-the-Market Reports, and today we're moving from the more general communications trends - unified communications and cloud-based services. In particular, we'll be examining and excerpting how these two complementary trends can be of significant advantage when considered together.

Enterprise Cloud Services: The agenda

In particular, demographic questions were used as an underpinning for a part of this analysis. And the bottom line is clear: SMBs can see business-critical increases in productivity and commensurate cost savings by implementing unified communications (UC) using a cloud-based model.

The report particularly focused on "Knowledge Workers." ("Knowledge Workers" are employees who rely substantially on telecommunications capabilities (e.g. phone, PC) as an integral part of their duties, as compared to workers in a traditional production facility, construction, etc.) The Knowledge Worker staff is the largest group of employees in a typical SMB. Among the respondents in this study, 60% reported that 75% or more of total employees are "Knowledge Workers," and 73% reported more than half of their workforce consists of "Knowledge Workers."

When asked, "How much time per day do you think the average 'Knowledge Worker' spends each day on each of the following tasks?" we found that SMB Knowledge Workers spend an amazing 50% of their time on overhead tasks.

If one examines these results and assumes an eight-hour work day,

• 36% of the time is spent trying

o to contact people,

o to find information, and

o to schedule meetings.

• 14% is spent:

o duplicating information (forwarding e-mails; phone calls to see if the fax / e-mail / text message was received)

o dealing with unwanted communications (spam e-mails / unsolicited time-wasting phone calls.)

These percentages and values are very much in line with many other studies. In fact, studies as far back as 1995 show similar use of time by Knowledge Workers. While this lack of change over time may in some ways seem to be counter-intuitive, the Knowledge Worker today deals with much more information than was available 15 years ago. IT capabilities have brought together vast quantities of information and communications channels to be dealt with.

Thus, reducing a Knowledge Worker's unproductive time by 25% (one hour per day) can yield an extra six weeks in productivity each year, per employee. And this is a quite conservative estimate in terms of the efficiencies that can be introduced with the use of unified communications.

In the next newsletter, we'll quantify some of these results and also bring the cloud-based services into the picture. In the meantime, for a copy of the full report, please see "2011 Unified Communications and Cloud-Based Services Report".

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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