Unified Communications (News - Alert) (UC) is one of those fascinating terms. Those of us in the business think we know it when we see it. However, defining precisely what it is and whether, after all of the years of listening to the promise, it is finally time to take the leap and go full throttle in implementing UC remains problematic. Or, is it?
Reality is that to keep an organization’s communications assets optimized — as an enabler of customer (internal and external) satisfaction, workflow optimization, business process automation, productivity enhancer and value creator —implementation of a well thought out UC deployment can be and, depending on your organizations unique needs, must be a priority for consideration.
The facts are that the installed base of PBXs and key telephone systems has never been older. The last major upgrade of such systems was necessitated by the Y2K problems surrounding the millennial. In other words it happened long before it became inevitable that communications networking was going to transition rapidly from TDM to IP, before the Internet, social networking, the bring your own device (BYOD) to work era, and the requirement of integration with things like mobility, presence, a raft of new collaboration tools, the emergence of virtualization and all things cloud-related.
In short, the world has changed dramatically. Communications and IT administrators need to be taking a cold, hard look at whether their “Info-structure” —communications and computing hardware and software — is up to the challenges posed by today’s business needs.
Food for thought
If you are involved in the planning, purchase, deployment and management of converging communications and computing resources for your organization, you are likely facing a tipping point where you have outgrown the features, functionality and utility (cost and performance) of your existing systems and software. At a high level here are just a few things you probably would like to know:
- What is Unified Communications?
- What are the key benefits of UC in terms of your organization’s business objectives?
- How can you properly evaluate the different vendors, deployment models, and capabilities?
- How much UC does your business need? When, where, why and at what cost?
- What are the risks of inaction?
At a more granular level, below are five questions to consider as you contemplate a move to an all IP network in the context of a UC solution:
- What are the key UC capabilities that are most important to your company’s business goals and its various constituencies?
- What is the difference between different deployment models (on-premises, cloud, hybrid)?
- How long can existing equipment be useful?
- What resources will be required to deploy and maintain a UC system, and is my organization equipped for implementing a transition?
- How quickly can a new system be in place, how flexible is it in terms of scalability and future needs, how easy will it be to train people and manage the new capabilities?
All of these questions are not to be taken lightly. The move to new technology platforms and functionality has a multitude of consequences. Knowing what to evaluate, plan for and expect is critical before making a decision about next steps.
An upcoming webinar, “Five Questions to Ask Before You Make Your Unified Communications Choice" is a good place to start in answering additional concerns on whether the time is right for your organization, regardless of size or location(s) to implement UC including how, what, where, why, when and what to think about in selecting a trusted partner. ,”
Peter Bernstein is a technology industry veteran, having worked in multiple capacities with several of the industry's biggest brands, including Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, Telcordia, HP, Siemens, Nortel (News - Alert), France Telecom, and others, and having served on the Advisory Boards of 15 technology startups. To read more of Peter's work, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi