Unified communications return on investment can be justified in three major ways: expense reduction, productivity enhancements, and communications enabled business processes (CEBP). Any one alone can make UC free with an impressive ROI, but it is more likely that all three categories contribute returns, some would argue.

Switching from legacy lines (analog, T-1/PRI/E1) to SIP trunks offers large savings for most organizations.
Legacy systems have high maintenance costs associated with hardware service and repair. Most UC systems are software-based, and that reduces specialized and proprietary equipment, although some savings are offset with higher software maintenance costs.
External conferencing services charge premium rates, but are still attractive over in-sourced solutions due to the high cost of capacity (dedicated circuits and ports). However, VoIP and SIP work together to reduce the recurring costs of capacity and organizations often realize significant savings (and new features) by switching to in-sourced conferencing after UC deployments.
Travel is hard to eliminate, but security concerns, high costs and airline services are aligning with newer technologies to make various forms of distance collaboration more attractive. The notion of video conferencing reducing travel certainly isn’t new, but the cost of video is dropping and desktop webcams are making it much more widely available.
Many organizations realize savings by eliminating or minimizing branch office communications hardware. The savings result from reduced remote administration and maintenance, consolidation of circuits and economies of scale benefits at the data center. Modern UC systems have robust capabilities for survivable branch office solutions that provide backup voice services though local POTs lines should a WAN link to the central data center fail.

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