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Campuses Begin Shifting UC to the Cloud

Universities in the United States have quadrupled their adoption of unified communications over the last year. And, according to new research, many are moving their UC implementations to the cloud.

The research is the latest installment in the annual CDW-G Unified Communications Tracking Poll. For the 2011 report, O'Keeffe & Co. surveyed 900 IT professionals across sectors, including higher education and K-12. All participants were involved in unified communications for their organizations at the decision-making level.

Cross-Sector Findings
The survey found that, on the whole, UC adoption has doubled since the previous year's poll. A full 16 percent of all organizations have "fully implemented" unified communications, up from 8 percent in 2010 and 6 percent in 2009 (with a margin of error of ±3.2 percent). The remainder are in the process of implementing UC (18 percent), planning a UC implementation (33 percent), or assessing a possible UC implementation (33 percent).

Among the specific technologies that had been deployed at the time of the survey were:

  • VIdeoconferencing (69 percent);
  • IP telephony (66 percent);
  • Mass notifications (63 percent);
  • Unified messaging (62 percent); and
  • Presence (47 percent).

All were up from previous years except presence and mass notification, which were statistically flat (within the poll's 3.2-point margin of error) between 2010 and 2011.

The report also showed that 76 percent of those organizations that have completed their UC implementations have experienced a return on investment that "met or exceeded" their expectations, up 5 percent from the 2010 report.

"Across industries, organizations are embracing 'anytime, anyplace' access to information to boost productivity. They also continue to look for opportunities to use budget dollars more effectively," said Christine Holloway, vice president of converged infrastructure solutions at CDW, in a statement released to coincide with the report. "Unified communications delivers on both of those objectives."

Findings for Higher Education
In higher education specifically, 17 percent of respondents indicated their organizations had fully implemented unified communications. That's up from 4 percent last year, easily exceeding the sector-specific margin of error of 8 percent. The percentage of campuses in the process of implementing UC (20 percent) or planning for an implementation (31 percent) was statistically flat. The drop in the number of campuses still in the assessment phase was a statistically significant 16 points, down to 32 percent, from 2010.

Among higher education institutions, 5 percent reported they've have deployed cloud-based UC solutions. Another 14 percent said they're in the process of deploying a cloud-based solution, and 48 percent reported they are at least evaluating a cloud-based UC solution.

According to the report, the top UC features cited by respondents in the higher education sector included:

  • Access to work e-mail and voicemail via smart phone;
  • Videoconferencing; and
  • The ability to receive voicemail and e-mail.

The top benefits cited by participants included:

  • DIstance learning;
  • Increased productivity; and
  • Reliable communications.

The 2011 Unified Communications Tracking Poll was conducted in February 2011. Forty-three percent of respondents were top IT leaders, including CIOs and directors; 38 percent were IT supervisors, specialists, or engineers; 11 percent were telecom supervisors, specialists, or engineers; and 8 percent were telecom directors or managers.

In higher education, 67 percent came from public institutions, while 33 percent came from private institutions. Most (77 percent) were from four-year institutions. There rest represented community colleges (20 percent) or other types of higher education institutions (3 percent).

The full report is publicly available now. Further details can be found here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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