Meanwhile, Over in Europe

Organizations in the United States are well advised to keep an eye on unified communications activities in Europe. Many organizations, of course, are active on both sides of the Atlantic and therefore have a direct interest in the situation in both places. Note, however, that even companies that are only active here can learn a lot by keeping an eye on the action in the old world.

Europe’s UC initiatives are moving along nicely, according to a survey by software and IT firm Aspect. The survey suggests that 58 percent of organizations on the continent will complete deployment by 2012. The breakdown is that 17 percent already have done so and 41 percent will follow suit during the next couple of years. The key tools include e-mail, mobile devices, legacy telephone equipment, conferencing, VoIP, IM, document sharing, presence and video, according to a Computer Business Review story on the survey.

The story goes into good detail on the survey, which tabs improved productivity (at 22 percent) as the leading benefit of UC. That attribute scores about 10 percentage points higher than cutting travel costs, mobile office and “saving time and resources using presence,” which were grouped at about the 12 percent to 13 percent level. The article makes no distinction between “saving time and resources using presence” and “improved productivity,” which seem to be about the same thing.

Last month, Frost & Sullivan released a study that identified small- and medium-sized business (SMBs) as a key market in Europe. The release certainly sounds like it could have been written about activities in the U.S.:

The communications capabilities that were once reserved for larger enterprises have now permeated the world of small to medium businesses. Typically lacking the IT and financial resources that larger enterprises enjoy, small businesses require solutions that are inexpensive, as well as easy to deploy and manage.

There naturally are tremendous similarities between UC in the U.S. and Europe. It would be a mistake to suggest that there was no fundamental difference between the two, however. The very fact that platforms serving both are transnational – and laboring under different laws, currencies, economic climates and other conditions – makes it important to closely track.

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