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  • Unified communications ROI: What to expect and how to measure it

  • Author: Rose de Fremery

Most business leaders are already aware of the business benefits of unified communications (UC), especially when it comes to measuring unified communications ROI (return on investment) like cost savings and productivity. This is in large part why, according to IDC, the worldwide unified communications and collaboration market grew 26.7% year over year to arrive at $12.2 billion in value in the third quarter of 2020.1

When making the case for unified communications ROI, however, it's important to clearly outline how these benefits translate into concrete business value. Once you and your colleagues have a shared understanding of how unified communications will benefit your organization, you can build consensus around the decision to implement a UC solution and prove its value after it's up and running.

Business benefits of unified communications

There are three key business benefits of unified communications and the tips on how to demonstrate their ROI are discussed below.

1. Cost savings

A modern, cloud-based UC solution can save your business money in several areas, including but not limited to infrastructure, administration and travel. For example, by opting for a cloud-based unified communications solution, you can often avoid the hefty upfront capital expenditures typically associated with an on-premises business communications platform and lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) that would otherwise come with it.

By comparing the multi-year costs of purchasing and maintaining an on-premises business communication solution with its cloud-based counterpart, especially if you already own and maintain an aging legacy business communications system, you can clearly demonstrate the value your UC solution will deliver. Shifting from a capital expenditure model to an operating expenditure model can offer your organization additional cost savings over the long term, giving you increased budget flexibility while letting you quickly and cost-effectively scale your communications capabilities.

Because many unified communications streamline features such as video and audio conferencing into a single solution, it's also worth checking to see if any of the departments or offices at your organization currently budget and pay for individual point solutions like cloud-hosted video and audio conferencing tools. If they do, you can eliminate the cost of those solutions as well as the administrative upkeep involved in maintaining them.

Likewise, compare how much you are paying for voice calls between locations—whether that's between offices, employees who are working remotely, or even colleagues located in different countries—with how much it would cost your company to conduct those same calls using a unified communications solution. If certain employees would normally engage in frequent business travel or commute across long distances for meetings, look at those budget lines as well. Client conversations that once required an in-person gathering can now often be conducted via a video call.

2. Productivity

Unified communications solutions can boost business productivity by enhancing employee collaboration. If one of your employees needs to track down a report, for example, they can quickly message a colleague in the sales team for timely help. Or, if your finance team needs to review a complex budget document, it can do so using web conferencing. Team meetings in general are more productive and fruitful when held via video conference, particularly when multiple members are working remotely and might not otherwise have an opportunity to collaborate in person.

Your business can unlock even greater productivity by integrating its UC solution with business productivity software. This allows your employees to more easily schedule and coordinate meetings from wherever they happen to be working, even using a mobile app while they're on the go. Here, too, you can calculate ROI by measuring the amount of time that your employees currently invest in performing core business tasks and identifying how a UC solution could accelerate that process.

That brings us to another productivity assessment worth including in your unified communications ROI calculations—IT administration. Because your provider takes care of the technical administration of your UC solution, your IT team will no longer have to worry about installing software updates or troubleshooting problems if they arise. You can then re-invest the time you save into other priority IT projects.

If your IT team tracks the time it spends on such administrative and technical support duties, you can include this information in your ROI evaluation and potentially even translate it into a concrete dollar figure by factoring in the salary and benefits costs for your IT professionals.

3. Customer satisfaction

Although it might not be immediately apparent, you can also increase customer satisfaction by implementing unified communications. One powerful way to accomplish this goal is by integrating your UC solution with your customer relationship management software. This helps customer support agents more quickly locate key customer information and answer queries, resolving calls in less time than they otherwise would.

If you choose to integrate your UC and contact center solutions, you can improve your customer experience even further. By monitoring baseline customer service KPIs such as first-time call resolution and customer satisfaction and then evaluating their progress after you've implemented your UC solution, you can demonstrate unified communications ROI in this mission-critical area.

Drive ROI with unified communications

A unified communications solution can deliver additional business benefits beyond cost savings, productivity and customer satisfaction. In the course of deploying a unified communications system, your IT team can improve business continuity and make your business more resilient in the event of an emergency. Because cloud-based business communications tools integrate with other business applications and flexibly scale on demand, they can also future-proof your business and make it more agile. With a strong case that clearly articulates the full value of unified communications ROI, you can lead your business toward a successful implementation.

Discover how Verizon's Unified Communications and Collaboration as a Service (UCaaS) solution delivers cost savings and boosts productivity.

1IDC, Worldwide Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) Market Rolls Along in 3Q20, According to IDC, December 2020.