Properly implemented, unified communications (UC) can reduce costs while boosting productivity. However, as with any developing technology segment, enterprises need a clear implementation plan that addresses issues such as user experience, system management and service duplication.
The State of the Art
In a recent research note, Forrester Research principal analyst Art Schoeller stated that a lack of maturity of true UC suites has resulted in an installed base of best-of-breed solutions, with each deployment having unique sets of inefficiencies. However, he also pointed out that the industry is moving toward more integrated suites, fuelled by vendor consolidation.
While Schoeller’s observations are pertinent, it is important to put them in perspective. He was not suggesting that most or even a majority of enterprises are being shortchanged by their unified communications systems. It was also made clear that there are steps enterprises can take to minimize wasted investment while maximizing user adoption.
There is no denying that infrastructure professionals in large IT departments are often segregated by capabilities, which means there is often no one to pull together a comprehensive UC road map and strategy to be used across the organisation.
How to Increase Benefits of UC?
However, Schoeller says the major players in the UC ecosystem – including telecoms departments, data networking teams, facilities managers, collaboration professionals, application developers and end users – can take steps to avoid the lack of co-ordination leading to lower quality service at a higher cost.
His suggestions include:
- encouraging users not to ignore technology that they feel is inaccessible or irrelevant to their needs
- minimizing the number of management systems for operations managers (who are tasked with identifying real time voice and video traffic quality of service issues created by different platforms)
- avoiding the purchase of separate tools for IM, voice, video and conferencing systems with overlapping capabilities
- reducing the number of vendors used by the enterprise (which also reduces complexity and risk)
- finding and engaging ‘collaboration champions’ to help drive UC adoption across business units.
Schoeller recommends assigning a dedicated project team, building a systems management strategy and conducting workforce segmentation. “After developing a road map for a unified suite, look to build tailored use cases for the business that demonstrate return on investment. These cases should identify workflows that could improve with good real time, unified communication tool."
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After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.