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Organizations Increasingly Turning to Unified Communications Solutions, CDW Poll Finds

UC implementation rates remain steady compared to one year ago, with 8 percent of organizations fully implemented. The percentage of organizations that have prepared a business case or strategic plan for UC adoption has increased from 55 percent in 2009 to 67 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, 71 percent of organizations that have fully implemented UC and track return on investment (ROI) say that ROI has met or exceeded their expectations.

“IT executives report that economic pressures were a greater concern in 2009 than in 2008, but for many, the return on investment from UC deployments is so compelling that they ask, ‘Why wouldn’t we do this?’” said Pat Scheckel, vice president of converged infrastructure solutions at CDW. “The result is reduced costs, increased productivity and improved decision making – benefits that resonate across every industry, especially in a recessionary economy.”

UC is the convergence of enterprise voice, video and data services and software applications to achieve greater collaboration among individuals or groups and improve business processes. UC component technologies include video, audio, and Web conferencing; presence; unified messaging; and instant messaging. CDW’s survey identified several significant increases in UC component technology implementations year over year. Today, 58 percent of IT executives have deployed unified messaging, compared to 46 percent in the 2009 study, and 45 percent have deployed presence technology, compared to 37 percent in the 2009 study.

Today’s IT executives are challenged to accomplish more with flat or declining budgets, and CDW’s survey shows that they believe UC delivers. Fifty-four percent of IT executives said operating cost reduction is the top benefit of UC, followed by increased productivity (50 percent) and more reliable communication (44 percent). What’s more, CDW’s tracking poll found that concern about capital costs for UC decreased significantly with business case preparation and solution implementation.

“We were able to make our UC adoption cost-neutral by streamlining related technologies,” said one higher education survey respondent. “We need to have staff in clinic more and traveling less, and we believe that UC can save travel time and expense,” added one IT director from a healthcare organization.

The CDW Unified Communications Tracking Poll also includes findings specific to each of the six industries surveyed. For example:

  • Medium-large businesses are most likely to say their primary UC driver is improving business outcomes over decreasing costs
  • Federal government organizations are more likely to be concerned with network security and are more likely to have prepared a business case or strategic plan for UC than other organizations. DoD organizations are more likely to have prepared a business case or strategic plan for UC and are less likely to have difficulty securing budget commitments than Federal civilian organizations
  • In state and local government organizations, county organizations are more focused on using UC to improve cross-functional collaboration than their state and municipal counterparts
  • Healthcare organizations are more likely to have audioconferencing and unified messaging in place than other organizations. Hospitals are more likely to have prepared a business case or strategic plan for UC than their counterparts in ambulatory and long-term care facilities
  • In higher education, public institutions are more likely to have prepared a business case or strategic plan for UC than private institutions

K-12 institutions, new to the tracking poll in 2010, see emergency notification as a key benefit of UC technology, and they are most likely to be planning to deploy a mass notification system within a year

“Based on our experience helping customers in all industries design and implement communications systems, evolving technology is both driving and enabling organizations in every sector to change the way they work,” Scheckel said. “This study shows conclusively that the ones adopting a unified communications platform are seeing significant cost reductions and improvement in organizational effectiveness.” This survey, the second iteration of CDW’s Unified Communications Tracking Poll, was conducted during December 2009. Responses were collected from 915 IT professionals who identified themselves as actively involved with unified communications related technologies. The sample includes at least 150 individuals from each of six segments: medium/large businesses, the Federal government, state and local governments, healthcare, higher education and K-12 public schools. The margin of error for the total sample is ±3.2 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. The margin of error for each industry sample is ±8.0 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

For a copy of the complete CDW 2010 Unified Communications Tracking Poll, please visit

For more about CDW’s unified communications capabilities and offerings, please visit

About CDW:CDW is a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government and education. Ranked No. 41 on Forbes’ list of America’s Largest Private Companies, CDW features dedicated account managers who help customers choose the right technology products and services to meet their needs. The company’s technology specialists offer expertise in designing customized solutions, while its advanced technology engineers can assist customers with the implementation and long-term management of those solutions. Areas of focus include notebooks, desktops, printers, servers and storage, unified communications, security, wireless, power and cooling, networking, software licensing and mobility solutions.

CDW was founded in 1984 and as of December 31, 2009 employed approximately 6,150 coworkers. In 2008, the company generated sales of $8.1 billion. For more information, visit

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