The concept of communications is to remove barriers. The telephone removes any distance barrier, as people can communicate with one another whether they are in the next room or across the ocean. Other types of communications such as faxes, wireless phones, and e-mail also break down barriers. However, each of these forms of communications introduces its own type of media barrier. Often an individual wishes to communicate with someone else but is unsure of what medium to use, so he or she leaves multiple messages over a variety of different technologies. The concept of unified communications is to break down all distance, time, and media barriers to allow people to communicate with one another anywhere, anytime, and across any medium from a single device.In the past, corporations have committed budgets to various forms of communications as well as applications, such as unified messaging, that did not deliver the return on investment they expected. Unified communications can bring together all of the various communications devices and leverage applications that companies already have spent money on. In this budget-tight economy, business leaders continue to search for ways to make the most of technology that is currently deployed. By deploying a strong unified communications infrastructure, companies can finally take advantage of the capital that has been committed to communications and deliver their employees the tools to be more productive. There has been a vast underutilization of technology access by corporations. Unified communications will allow companies to leverage existing technology and enable key employees to have the same information and communications flow whether they are in the office, working from home, or traveling.Our interviews confirmed that when the complete set of features and functions for a robust unified communications platform are described to end users, most of them say they would see immediate business value and could collaborate better. The net benefit would be gaining time back, which is invaluable to today's professionals. Additionally, with the tightened IT budgets and an emphasis on cost savings and increased revenue, unified communications can help increase the bottom and top lines of the organization while leveraging existing technology. Recommendations to End UsersStart with a small set of users. If your company has not begun the process of deploying unified communications, start with a small set of technically advanced users. This will allow the IT department to develop training programs and understand the impact on the user community. Develop business-related benchmarks and key performance metrics. Evaluating the impact that unified communications will have on the business will depend on the ability to correlate usage to productivity gains. Developing key performance metrics that revolve around usage and productivity is key to this process. Training, training, and more training. Application rollouts often are viewed as failures because they did not deliver the anticipated return on investment. However, the implementation and deployment of the application are often fine-inadequate user training leads to the problem. Proper training will ensure that users understand how to use the systems and will lower the overall frustration levels that new applications can bring.