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Unified Communications Holds Untapped Potential for Manufacturers

February 25, 2015 by

Unified communications is not exactly a new technology. At this point, UC solutions have been around for quite a while, and countless organizations have already taken steps to embrace UC tools and their inherent benefits. Yet despite the seemingly inexorable march toward universal UC adoption, the fact of the matter is that many companies have yet to deploy the technology. This includes numerous firms that could see tremendous advantages if they were willing to move ahead with UC implementation plans.

This potential can clearly be seen in the manufacturing sector. Firms in this industry are not yet maximizing the benefits of these tools, but as Computing Magazine reported, the technology could deliver major dividends.

UC in the supply chain

Perhaps the single most useful yet untapped utilization of UC technology in the manufacturing sector concerns the supply chain. Speaking during a Computing webinar, Mark Grant, senior practice lead of Microsoft Collaboration Services at Dimension Data, explained that a UC-enabled supply chain will have wide-ranging positive effects.

"If companies took the principles they apply to their salesforce and apply it to their supply chain then it could help with timescales. If you think about problems with certain products, these can be found earlier on in the timeline and you can use UCC technology to help notify other parts of the supply chain," Grant explained, according to the news source.

Room for Improvement

Grant further noted that the UC technology needed to achieve such a deployment is readily available. The problem is simply that manufacturers have not instigated plans to leverage the solutions in this way.

In fact, the news source reported that UC tools are generally not being used for external purposes, as described by Grant. Computing Magazine surveyed 150 IT decision-makers from large organizations and found that only 43 percent of respondents communicated with suppliers via UC systems, with similar figures for consultants (45 percent), contractors (42 percent), and vendors (35 percent).

When it came to more obvious internal applications of UC tools, usage was much broader. Computing Magazine noted that 72 percent of respondents now use video conferencing tools, for example. The discrepancy between this number and those previously cited highlights the lack of external use cases for UC among manufacturers.

This means that any manufacturer willing to take the initiative in this area would be poised to enjoy a major benefit. Not only will UC provide all the advantages highlighted by Grant, but it can also foster deeper, more effective relationships between the manufacturers' personnel and employees working throughout the supply chain. These relationships are difficult to quantify, but they all but certainly result in happier workers and better results overall.

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