A few months back I had a post on HP's announcement an extended set of offerings supporting Unified Communications. The expansive role of Unified Communications in taking latency out of a corporation is something many organizations overlook. This past week Microsoft and HP announced an expanded approach in this space.
"The solution, which is planned to span software, hardware, networking and services, would enable customers to improve business output and reduce travel, telecom and IT operating costs. This would be accomplished by streamlining communications across messaging, video and voice with connected applications and devices."
Unified communications can be hard to define (sort of like cloud computing). It is broad and the benefits somewhat challenging to measure. When tackling any project like this, organizations need to approach the problem the same way you'd eat an elephant - one bite at a time. Teams need to have clearly defined expectations with smaller (yet meaningful) projects that validate your assumptions, before you commit the entire company to a path based on supposition.
Unified communications is about integration, flexibility and support for personal preference. Having the ability to customize the environment at the individual level can make the experience much more than just VoIP or some telecommunications cost cutting strategy. Video is something that organizations need to consider, focusing on moving bits not atoms and allowing higher bandwidth of human interaction, yet reducing travel costs. Integration with collaboration and mobile location based services is also a likely area to address. If the UC deployment can enable support for personal context by the enterprise, it can significantly increase productivity and reduce response time, enabling people to take control of how information is delivered to them.