Partners join Microsoft in NZ communications push

Early adopters include Lion Nathan and Sungard

HP has a local team of 20 to promote its new unified communications offering with Microsoft, which had its New Zealand launch in Auckland yesterday.

The technology uses software to combine voice, text, IM, and even videoconferencing from a single desktop platform. It also allows users to see if the person they want to contact is available — a function known as "presence".

Microsoft and Nortel and partners such as HP claim significant efficiency and time savings from the technology.

Those adopting the system include Lion Nathan in Australia and Sungard in New Zealand (case study) as well as several undisclosed universities. In Australia, early adopters include mining giant BHP Billiton, Adelaide Bank, developers Mirvac, IAG insurance, the University of Sydney, and Eastern Health in Victoria State.

HP senior developer Michael Pryztula says HP will initially target its named accounts in enterprise and government with its new offering; plus its commercial sector of midrange firms.

“We have also begun some work with channel partners about how we might go to market with them,” he told Computerworld.

Pryztula says trials showed very high user acceptance with the end users seeing the time and cost savings of a simple click offering services, rather than users dialing up or using longer methods.

He expects within a few years workers will expect unified communications as standard like they expect email today. But it depends on how firms integrate it with their existing technology.

Many organisations use unified communications today, but from other suppliers, including Auckland-based Zeacom. The Microsoft/Nortel alliance and moves by the likes of Cisco, however, mark the arrival of the global giants in the market.

HP, which has a demonstration centre in New Zealand showcasing the technology, sees unified communications as “a journey” with organisations adopting it function by function, rather than a “rip and replace” of systems.

“We have developed a range of standard service, fixed prices, and roadmap planning service. We can make it as easy as possible and as cost effective as possible,” added HP networks manager Paul Mitchener.

At the launch, Redmond-based Kim Akers, Microsoft general manager, unified communications, noted how PCs and mobile phones had changed significantly in recent decades but PABX systems had not.

Now, the use of software for various functions would unleash a level of innovation and open up a word of choice for consumers, she says.

Akers told Computerworld that IT managers will need to be practical as to how they deploy unified communications. They need to see how they are on the roadmap, what their firm’s biggest pain points were, and not rip everything out straight away.

“Most of what we are working on will be deploying unified communications over time as products come to the natural end of their life and then we move more towards the backbone. We are taking a practical approach,” she says.

Earlier, Australian-based consulting director for Frost & Sullivan, Andrew Milroy, told the launch that the better communications UC will foster will lead to more collaboration and changed organisational structures, especially as businesses outsource more.

Futhermore, the cost savings and faster response the technology will bring, will also give users a competitive edge, which he expected would be a business differentiator within a decade.

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Tags MicrosoftHPunified communicationsnortelNetworking & Telecomms ID

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