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Unified Communications (UC) is getting a lot of publicity in the tech media these days. But the big push by manufacturers to integrate chat and presence with existing communication systems may not drive sales as much as initially expected.

A recent Forrester survey of 2,187 North American and European companies stated there is “confusion about the value” of unified communications for their company. It seems that UC is regarded as a “nice, but not critical” application for communication systems. In fact, UC is not even the number 1 priority for corporations, mobility is. 64% of the respondents in the Forrester survey indicate that “providing more mobility support to employees is a priority”, with 23% citing it as a critical priority.

Unfortunately, mobility is a trickier topic than UC for many communication systems due to the complexities of multiple cellular carriers, mobile devices, and operating systems. Getting all 3 pieces of that puzzle to work together is a daunting task. However it does generate a call to action for future investment and upgrading of communication technology. Extending the desktop to the mobile space adds many levels of value and an enhanced ROI to a communication system.

Unified Communication could find a niche spot in the marketplace riding the coat tails of mobility. As UC becomes more common, many manufacturers will begin to offer it as a standard feature and not an enhanced (think more money) add-on with true enterprise mobility becoming the featured enhancement. UC can provide a nice complement to mobility extending enterprise chat, presence, and even GPS personnel location to a mobile device.

Soon, users will have access to UC apps as easily as traditional e-mail and unified messaging (voice mail merged with e-mail). Remember, these features were once heralded as high-end cutting edge applications as well.

Somebody let me know when they merge mobility with video conferencing, that will be interesting.

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