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Unified communications and the economic slowdown

Nov 20, 20082 mins
Email ClientsNetworkingUnified Communications

* The current economic crisis will be a major boon to the unified communications industry

An economic slowdown is an interesting phenomenon. While there are some structural elements of a slowdown that are real, much of a slowdown is a self-fulfilling prophecy: people are afraid of their economic future so they slow spending, which actually creates much of the recession they fear will happen. A similar phenomenon occurred during the first energy crisis in the 1970s: prior to the crisis, the average car had roughly 3.5 gallons of gasoline in its tank at any given time; during the crisis, that figure was more than 14 gallons. That extra 100 million gallons or so driving around did not cause the crisis, but it certainly contributed to it.

The current economic crisis is creating a slowdown in spending in a number of areas, in part because of the fear of what might happen instead of what actually is happening, but I believe it will be a major boon to the unified communications industry. Attending VoiceCon in San Francisco was interesting on a number of levels because it shed some light on the near- and long future of unified communications. At a high level, if attendance at a trade show is any indication of interest in the future of a technology, then the greater attendance at this year’s VoiceCon compared to last year’s is a positive sign for unified communications.

More importantly, however, is the fact that unified communications will help organizations weather the current economic problems in a way that they could not without these capabilities. For example, look for many organizations to speed their deployment of technologies that will help them replace travel, including Web conferencing, videoconferencing and other real-time communication technologies. These technologies can provide a very short-term payback period and the benefits are fairly easy to justify to a CFO. 

We might also see faster-than-expected deployment of unified communications offerings as replacements for current e-mail systems as organizations look to integrate real-time communications into their communications infrastructure on a more macro level. Also look for more vendor consolidation moving forward.

Clearly, the economic slowdown in which we find ourselves is a serious one – the most serious one since the early 1980s – and there will be a number of negative consequences arising from it. However, there are many bright spots for communication providers – what I saw at VoiceCon underscored this quite nicely.