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Videoconferencing gaining leverage in the unified communications market

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The maturation of videoconferencing technologies is changing the way workers collaborate in the enterprise. This is creating a major shift in which videoconferencing tools are no longer deployed exclusively because they deliver a significant return on investment, but because they also improve business continuity and productivity, according to a recent InformationWeek report.

Speaking to reporters and analysts, industry expert Andy Miller explained that unified communications systems will increasingly derive their value from business continuity and productivity moving forward. This represents a major shift, as the technology, especially videoconferencing, will no longer be focused so heavily on delivering a return on investment by reducing travel expenses. Instead, the emphasis will shift to the operational gains that advanced collaboration solutions can offer, InformationWeek reported.

According to the news source, Miller explained that unified communications ROI is clearly indicated in reduced travel costs and corporate carbon emissions reduction. However, the full value of UC technology comes out when workers are able to hold key meetings during a snowstorm and collaboration continues regardless of natural disasters.

Echoing Miller's sentiments, Bob O'Donnell, vice president at IDC, told InformationWeek companies are increasingly aware that they need backup and continuity plans when it comes to collaboration.

"There is this increasing awareness that companies need to have emergency backup plans in terms of how they can contact their employees and maintain their operations in the event of weather or other disasters," O'Donnell told the news source.

Videoconferencing is especially valuable as a collaboration tool, O'Donnell said, as it helps maintain ties between workers in disparate locations.

"Something like video communications allows people to maintain a very close tie with colleagues and other coworkers, so that's recognized as having a real value to people," O'Donnell explained to InformationWeek.

With unified communications becoming more valuable to businesses on multiple levels, it is not surprising that more organizations are investing in advanced UC capabilities. According to a recent Channel Insider report, most UC investments have historically focused on VoIP, messaging and other basic communications tools. However, 2011 witnessed significant growth for collaboration, video and mobile tools. This expansion will likely continue into 2012, with UC deployments continuing to evolve and mature as businesses add to their stable of telephony tools.