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IP-based unified comms can save money – and save the earth

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According to Business Management, IP systems spanning multiple sites can decrease a company's power consumption by 38% depending on the configuration. 

Given that Sun Microsystems predicts that energy costs, especially electricity, could soon account for almost half a company's IT budget, IT executives would do well to consider a unified communications platform for their businesses.
The issue of energy saving is increasingly creeping on to CIOs' agendas around the world, but given South Africa's power issues, cutting down energy consumption has never been more relevant.
According to Dave Paulding, Interactive Intelligence's regional sales director for UK and Africa, unified communications reduces a company's carbon footprint in two primary ways.  
The first is that an IP-based platform has fewer moving parts, and physically less hardware than older solutions. The servers are smaller and therefore draw less power, and they do not need the additional power supplies and cooling fans as required by legacy systems. This translates into significant energy saving for companies.
Also, because older solutions were largely hardware based, they placed an additional burden on the environment as faulty parts had to be disposed of – and none of them are rapidly biodegradable.  Technicians could only do repairs on site, so travelling to a client's premises was mandatory, adding carbon emissions into the atmosphere as they went.
The second way that IP-based systems increase a company's ability to go green is through enabling less commuting for its workforce. Firstly, advances in technology have made home-based working a practical reality. These days, an employee working from home has the same functionality as when they are in the office.  Capabilities such as 'find-me-follow-me' mean that the customer calling that employee has no indication that s/he is working from home.
"This has two significant spin-offs.  Firstly, a mobile work-from-home approach cuts back on the emissions of employees traveling to and from work, reducing a company's carbon footprint.  Secondly, by implementing desk-share schemes, enterprises with a sales focus can operate with up to 70% fewer workstations," says Paulding.
This means that companies require less office equipment, smaller premises and a decreased requirement for heating or cooling, resulting in hard-cost savings and reduced energy consumption.
"In fact, in the right organisation, a mobile workforce can render office space entirely redundant. One of our contact centre customers in the US has no physical contact centre. All its agents operate remotely, and it is a thriving, low-overhead business," says Paulding.
Unified communications has also reduced the need for employees to commute to different cities or sites for face-to-face meetings. Teleconference functionality means that employees can have effective meetings without leaving their offices. This results in decreased carbon emissions from airplane trips, as well as saving companies significantly in travel costs.
At a time in our history when green issues are becoming increasingly pressing, companies are compelled to contribute in a myriad of ways to counter the effects of global warming. We are also facing challenging economic times and most organisations are looking for ways to pull in the belt. Unified communications makes sense both ecologically and economically.