Try as you may to control your calendar, more often than not, it controls you. But I must thank the calendar gods for syncing my recent speaking schedule to focus on one topic: unified communications.\n\nPrior to my presentation blitz, I had bucketed the term "unified communications" in the category of vendor marketing speak. I didn't think it referred to an identifiable, open and competitive market.\n\nHowever, as I often say, these days publishers know less and less about more and more. Recent conversations with several of the world's leading CIOs have convinced me that the unified communications market is, indeed, very real. And very broad.\n\nMarket researcher IDC (a sister company to CIO's publisher) defines unified communications as "a software solution platform that adds IP telephony calling and management, Web, audio- and videoconferencing, instant messaging, and pervasive presence management and awareness\u2014all accessible through desktop and mobile devices." And it is a market that is growing rapidly. IDC expects the worldwide market for unified communications technology to nearly double in value between now and 2011.\n\nThere are, however, some bumps on the road to widespread deployment. Most notably, there's a wide array of products that CIOs must understand in order to create the best unified communications implementation for their companies. CIOs can find the business value of unified communications elusive if they take a piecemeal approach, says IDC.\n\nMy advice, based on my conversations with leading global practitioners: The boldest moves to unified communications are the surest. As you start to roll up your strategic plans for 2009, make a bold, comprehensive unified communications buy a centerpiece of that strategy.\nWith IDC stating, "The impact of unified communications will define the next decade of the communications and IT industry," you have all the high air cover you need for your bold plan.