Over three-quarters of UK firms are now pursuing a unified communications (UC) strategy, according to research.

Market research firm Vanson Bourne interviewed 200 senior IT leaders from medium and large UK-based organisations across a number of market sectors.

The research, commissioned by managed UC systems provider Azzurri, found that voice over IP (VoIP), video conferencing and instant messaging were the most important applications - in that order - for UC strategies.

Half of the respondents considered improved productivity and flexible working/mobile working as the most important benefits of UC, with 60 percent citing greater efficiency.

Rufus Grig, chief technology officer at Azzurri, said: "UC as a concept has a chequered history. It's often seen as a buzzword created by vendors to try to sell their own proprietary products, rather than a benefit to customers.

"But IT leaders in the UK are now filtering out the hype and instead pursuing their own vision of UC, by mixing and matching communications technologies and choosing the ones best suited for their own requirements."

On the UC spending front for 2012, the research found a third were focusing on collaboration tools and "presence" systems. A fifth were looking at IP telephony or mobile solutions, although many had already done so.

Perhaps illustrating the importance of video conferencing in UC packages, provider Avaya recently announced plans to purchase videoconferencing company Radvision for $230 million (£146 million).