Last week, my blog was all about why you should not be so concerned about your UC deployment reaching financial ROI, and why you should focus on what is does for your company culture. This has set my inbox aglow with questions.
Since last week, I have been on the phone, e-mail, and instant messenger with several readers about last week’s post. I must say that while the interest and the sheer number of comments in my inbox have been stupendous, it has taken up quite a lot of my time to answer the questions. So, I figure that it is time to explain myself, so here goes: this is why you really should deploy UC.
UC: It is great for business, the bottom line, and it will ultimately ensure your company’s productivity, and your employees will love it – in a way that beats Lean projects with a vengeance. It did so for us at Jabra. In 2009, we put our money where our mouth was and decided to do our own UC mass deployment. We have not looked back since, and after a three-month period, when the project broke even, we could finally feel secure that what we had been preaching for years was actually the bona fide truth. Here are the results.
We could buy a company jet with the money saved on travel
We saw an instant savings on travel. We are a large organization with more than 20 sites, and we encourage remote working, as we feel we get the best specialists and workers by making location a non-issue. The savings on travel alone was so substantial, year after year, that we could have purchased our own company jet with the money saved.
The cost of mobile-to-mobile or fixed line to fixed line (or any combination of the two) calls between our Danish and Chinese R&D sites were reduced almost to nil as the UC roll out progressed, and our people began to use Lync, instant messenger, audio, and video conferencing in their daily internal communications. The same thing happened in phase three when we changed all of our fixed line desk phones to IP telephony, for both inbound and outbound external communications.
Remember, this is just the savings in terms of operating costs. Then, there is the whole issue of productivity. Let us say that each employee saves just 15 minutes a day, getting issues resolved quicker, getting answers when they need them, missing fewer calls, etc. That would be a huge savings of 54 working hours a year… that is more than the average workweek – and that is just for one employee. We experienced the rise of productivity as well.
The investment in the solution, built on our existing IT Infrastructure (e.g., fixed data lines to all regional sales offices) and Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (including MS Lync Enterprise CAL*), hardware, internal hours, conferencing equipment, headsets, and licenses amounted to 214,000 US dollars. The savings we made that year, excluding the much-improved collaboration and reduced travel costs, was, in return, a whopping one million US dollars. As our former CFO, Anders Boyer, said at the time: “The business case was almost too good to be true – and it proved to be even better than that.” A level-headed a statement as you would expect from a man like Anders! However, once the annual report was handed in that year, there was a rumor that the Global Finance team had a little party, but of course that is just office gossip.
Dell shaved one million US dollars off their telephony budget
Don’t take my word for it, I can understand it if you are skeptical. We are an organization in the UC industry, and our people are oriented to the process. So, let’s look at another example: Dell, the IT giant, shaved one million US dollars off their telephony budget and connected 100,000+ employees in 40 countries with their UC deployment. Mark Halle from Dell’s IT Infrastructure Management division says that soon after they deployed the Lync Servers, Dell was hosting more than 250,000 face-to-face meetings in-house, monthly. Now, they host about 2,000,000 minutes per month in audio/video conferencing alone, which is a significant jump in productivity for Dell. Also, the increased mobility and flexibility of the workforce has helped Dell reduce real estate, in some places at a ratio of up to 1:5, which could not have been done without the UC solution.
So, yes, there are all the soft issues: the culture, the community, and the collaboration that so many good people contacted me about last week, and then there are the hard ones: the software, the hardware, and the bottom line. But the truth is: it is really the communication, the culture, and the collaboration that matters. If you have all of that in place, and make sure that you nurture it every day, the bottom line will improve, and the productivity will rise as a matter of course – just because you have installed a piece of software and bought a headset – it is that easy!