HERNDON, Va., June 25, 2007 - For government agencies and their employees hoping to work remotely in order to meet congressionally mandated targets, a new survey of federal information technology decision makers commissioned by Cisco has some encouraging news. More than three-quarters of the respondents believe that coordination of a mobile or remote workforce will be improved through unified communications - the integration of voice, video and data, delivered across a secure Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructure.
Agencies will benefit from unified communications for their more critical needs as well, as more than 90 percent of respondents believe it is essential for disaster recovery and continuity of operations. As to implementation, one-quarter of the respondents report fully operational systems, and more than 20 percent are in early stages of rollout. The survey, conducted by the research firm Market Connections, polled 200 information technology executives from both civilian and defense agencies about their communications systems, business issues and challenges, and status of unified communications systems and action plans.
"As we are seeing with dozens of agencies, unified communications is essential to the transformation occurring within the federal government," said Bruce Klein, Cisco federal area vice president. "Agency employees are driving mission objectives from anywhere, and the trend should continue as they more clearly understand the benefits of unified communications, including increased overall efficiency, responsiveness and productivity, real-time communications, enhanced disaster recovery, location-independent employees, and the ability to do more with less by making use of existing resources."
Survey results indicate that state-of-the-art communications tools are being widely adopted across the federal government as agency executives strive to integrate secure, collaborative business processes and applications into their communications infrastructure. Wireless laptops, mobile devices and video conferencing systems are all used by the vast majority of agencies. Nearly 50 percent of the organizations now use instant messaging.
While these devices are overwhelmingly viewed as a "blessing rather than a curse" in helping to improve communications within the agencies, they are not a panacea. More than a third of the executives surveyed report having delayed projects or missed deadlines as a result of not being able to contact a co-worker.
Klein notes the responses indicate that many agencies have yet to understand and develop unified communications and mobility strategies to drive their business, and are still dealing with contradictory perceptions. For example, although nearly all respondents believe that security and system reliability would be improved through unified communications, the survey found that the benefit is not always recognized across their agencies. More than three-quarters of the respondents report that perceptions and concerns over security pose a challenge to an enterprise-wide implementation of an integrated system.
"While security-related concerns are most often reported as a challenge to unified communications implementation, this is more of an issue in the defense agencies, where security is naturally more of a concern," said Aaron Heffron, vice president, Market Connections. "Civilian agencies are more likely to be integrating one-to-one technologies such as instant messaging and mobile devices, whereas defense agencies are more interested in one-to-many tools such as audio and video conferencing."
Respondents note that the greatest vendor assistance would be sharing knowledge of new solutions and products, with more than half saying they would address future planning and implementation by using an outside vendor.
Among additional findings of the survey:
- More than two-thirds of respondents plan to have the capabilities to provide real-time notification and identification of employees and instant messaging or live chats in their agencies within the next 18 to 24 months.
- Nearly one-third of respondents expect the development of wireless networking access to require the greatest amount of their organizations' resources.
- Nearly 30 percent of respondents cite funding as the biggest challenge to achieving communications goals.
- Data/communication security and system reliability are the two highest priorities cited by respondents.
- From a functional standpoint, real-time notification and identification of employees is the capability cited as most important in any new communications system.
"We urge decision-makers to put less emphasis on tactical features and focus on the bigger benefits of improving emergency response, linking field operations to headquarters, and real-time response to citizen needs and workforce productivity," said Brent Byrnes, federal unified communications manager, Cisco. "We see this survey as a strong mandate for continued and expanded investment in education of top-level benefits of unified communications, such as further cross enterprise integration of security services, and solutions that enable easy migration to converged, secure, collaborative communication infrastructures."
View the complete survey at
http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/government/usfed_unified_comm.html, and access a podcast at www.cisco.com/go/fedpodcast.
About the Survey
In April 2007, Market Connections fielded a telephone survey of 201 federal telecommunications decision makers. Respondents were asked about their communications systems, the business issues and challenges they face, the status of their unified communications systems and action plans, and their perceptions of vendors/partners. There was an even split between defense and civilian agencies. Nearly 60 percent of respondents identify their primary job focus as technical in nature. Approximately 40 percent have business operations roles within their agencies. All respondents are familiar with the communications planning and implementation in their agencies.
Located in Fairfax, Va., Market Connections is the federal IT market's premier provider of full-service custom market research services. Additional information is available at www.marketconnectionsinc.com.