The industry is currently at the 'tipping point' for unified communications (UC), and most companies are considering signing up to UC services, according to Steve Cramoysan, research director at analyst firm Gartner.
UC technology allows users to move seamlessly between different communications modes, such as email, phone or video.
The move to UC is being enabled by widespread deployment of IP technology.
Cramoysan believes that technology is evolving quickly, and is now at a point where it can offer tangible benefits to organisations.
"Unified communications will increase your workforce's productivity through increased collaboration," he said.
He added that implementing a unified communications strategy enables an organisation's employees to access information regardless of device or location. This can also improve network access for distributed sites.
The analyst warned that the end goal should not be simply cost reduction, but rather, more about increased productivity.
"People expect to achieve cost reduction through consolidation, and that may be true, but that's not the principal benefit."
Severn Trent Water recently opened a new site which was set up to enable collaboration.
"We flooded the building with technology," said William Hewish, CTO.
He explained that his organisation now uses virtualised desktops, and breakout areas with electronic whiteboards. The intention is that staff can move about freely and work from any part of the building as a result of the company's investment.
"It's about increasing productivity," he said. "Our target is five per cent, which doesn't sound much, but multiply that by several thousand people and it has a significant business impact."
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