Going Green with Unified Communications

By David Levy , President and CEO, Objectworld Communications,

There has been a lot of discussion in the last few months about "green" and "IT", mostly in the enterprise trade press and blogosphere, where server farms dominate the IT landscape. Not the old-fashioned kind of green (good old folding money), but a new kind of green that's just as important: environmental concern. No need to worry. In the end, this kind of green is a great way to save the other kind of green.

In fact, there are many opportunities to green a business with unified communications-even for SMBs. Moreover, going green with UC isn't complicated at all. SMBs, their IT teams, and their solution partners should be considering UC solutions not only to drive productivity and reduce human latency, but also to reduce costs, energy use, and more.

First, businesses should choose a software solution, not an appliance. A number of the incumbents and even a number of the new entrants are still advising businesses to rip and replace one old difficult-to-manage and proprietary PBX system for a new, difficult-to-manage, proprietary PBX system. The churn on hardware is not very environmentally friendly at all, but neither are the energy costs.

If, instead, a business buys a unified communications solution that's predominantly software instead of hardware, one that runs as part of the server farm rather than as system separate from it, a business can upgrade both its phone system and its collaboration tools when it wants to by adding licenses and/or with a simple software upgrade. VoIP and UC as a software solution rather than a separately provisioned, singlepurpose appliance solution requires less to do more. As microprocessors become even more energy-efficient, this disparity will only increase.

Second, get rid of those fax machines. For businesses, the fax machine revolutionized a great deal of business process. In fact, the fax machine is still quite critical to a number of vertical industries common to the SMB market segments (e.g., legal firms, real estate professionals, health care providers, and so on). But for the environment, the stand-alone fax machine is not so good.

Just think of the standard office fax machine: all of the paper used, the additional phone lines and the computing resources requires to support them, the toner cartridges. The stand-alone fax machine is one of the most environmentally unfriendly (and unnecessarily expensive) parts of any small business' communications solution, and yet, faxes themselves are indispensable. Fortunately, the answer is simple: businesses should simply buy a UC solution that includes fax as part of its unified messaging offering. If employees can fax from the desktop, and their faxes come to them as attachments in their email, a business can eliminate its stand-alone fax machines, save money and the earth all at the same time. Eliminating multiple fax machines and reducing print supplies can save hundreds to thousands of dollars for most businesses every month and it goes a long way toward reducing carbon footprints.

Third, businesses should buy a solution with voice and video-conferencing or at least a solution that allows them to add video-conferencing when it becomes important to their business. This one is really straightforward. If Bob has to take a plane from Topeka to Tucson to meet Mary who's flown in from Tallahassee, in order to sit down with a customer, the cost of the air travel to both the business and the environment are substantial. Meet-me voice conferencing makes it simple for employees to conduct business with their partners, suppliers, and customers over the phone.

For voice conferencing, a lot of businesses have relied on a conference phone in a conference room (with all of its hard-to-understand buttons) or on an outsourced solution that's difficult to set up and requires planning ahead. Meet-me voice conferencing is elegant and simple. It allows employees to quickly create and call into voice conferences instantly just by entering the same bridge number. A UC solution should make it simple to add voice and video conferencing to your employees' set of communications tools. With voice conferencing, again, your business can often save hundreds to thousands per month while reducing its environmental impact. Most SMBs probably only need voice conferencing today, but it may need video conferencing tomorrow. Flexible solutions are green solutions.

As IT departments seek to make their deployments greener, they're making their equipment more energyefficient, taking a closer look at business processes in order to drive down TCO and improve ROI in a way that's more eco-friendly They're chasing opportunities to hug a lower TCO and to be one with a greater return on investment. It may seem radical, but in the end, going green is just good business sense. End of article.

For additional information regarding the benefits of telepresence, HD video conferencing and audio visual integration call 1-800-224-7083, or click here to have an IVCi Representative contact you.

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