It’s been said that voicemail is becoming a parity technology that only keeps an enterprise equal with its competitors. So if voicemail is dead, why should you worry about replacing it? The simple answer is that while use of voicemail, fax and other legacy communications technologies are declining, they are still essential business applications that no business can currently do without.
When an enterprise is faced with replacing or upgrading an aging voicemail system, there are nine evaluation criteria to consider to ensure a successful legacy voicemail system migration.
Replication of Existing Features and Functionality
Most people dislike change, so successful migrations must ensure that existing features, functionality and user experiences are preserved. There can be many features to compare and contrast, so it’s important to get a good feature comparison matrix that clearly outlines all the available user capabilities from each of the vendors under consideration.
Voice Systems and PBX Integration
The future of a company’s voice strategy may not always be clear. Today you may be on a TDM Avaya (News - Alert) PBX, but tomorrow you may merge with a company using a Cisco VoIP solution or another manufacturer’s voice platform. Don’t ask only if the new voicemail solution can integrate with your existing PBX (News - Alert), but be sure to ask about integrations with leading, next-generation voice platforms.
Architectural flexibility is a must. Manufacturers are moving to open standards and virtualization. However, many enterprises still require solutions that can be deployed in either a traditional telecom standalone server configuration or as a fully integrated business application running in an open standards or virtual environment. Also, the solution should be able to be deployed either on premises or in the cloud.
Resiliency and Scale
During this transition, many enterprises take the opportunity to reduce costs by flattening and consolidating related legacy applications like fax, speech attendants or mass notification apps into a single common platform. When combining apps onto a single platform, the solution you choose must be highly scalable and able to be deployed in a site or geo redundant or high availability configuration.
Integration with Business Applications
Today, voicemail solutions increasingly provide rich integration into the cloud, SaaS and social applications where users live and work such as those from Microsoft, Google (News - Alert), Salesforce and Jive. These apps have become essential business communication and productivity tools. As enterprises increasingly move to the cloud, consumption of business applications is rapidly moving away from thick clients on desktops to ready access via the browser and mobile devices. Your voicemail solution should be able to keep pace by communication-enabling these applications regardless of the endpoint or device.
Integration with Clients
Many companies are already employing collaboration clients from Cisco (News - Alert), Microsoft and Google to provide a common UC experience that is accessible from a variety of business applications. This fact makes it even more important to determine whether your new voicemail solution will integrate with existing manufacturers’ UC clients and promote and support a common user experience.
Design and Implementation Expertise
On-time, on-budget deployments are predicated on your provider’s ability to assess current and future requirements associated with the replacement of legacy voicemail systems. Checklist items like past experience and installation staffing (onsite vs. remote), are essential to consider.
Supportability and Ongoing Software Assurance
In the past, voicemail companies like OCTel and VMX provided migration tools that allowed enterprises to migrate data and apps from one proprietary platform to another. Today, your migration will almost certainly include a move from a proprietary or manufacturer-provided hardware system to a new, manufacturer-provided or open source platform with no commonality to your existing system. Therefore, you will need to consider new models for software, hardware and administrative support and training.
Financial Considerations and Options
Beyond the actual dollars and cents comparisons between vendors, it is also important that vendors offer both operating and capital expenditure options to meet the ever-changing consumption models of the enterprise.
Each enterprise facing the replacement of its legacy voicemail will have unique circumstances and considerations to weigh during the process. Evaluating your needs across these nine categories will put you in a strong position to make the right choices and deliver the best results.
Dave Ballins is the North America director of channels for Esna Technologies
Edited by Maurice Nagle