Ask your average CIO about his business case for unified communications (UC), and the likely answer will come down to cost reduction or avoidance--savings generated by voice-over-IP (VoIP) networks, bills lowered using instant messaging instead of toll calls.

But the real value in UC--improved communications among employees and with customers--is rarely best expressed in dollars and cents.

When Richard Buss began exploring UC in 2010, his goals were straightforward: simplify his telecom infrastructure, cut costs, harden his networks and reduce network redundancy. At the time, the vice president of technology for environmental testing company EMSL Analytical was managing a hodgepodge of phone systems scattered around the company's 43 sites.

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