Challenges when switching to unified communications
Unified Communications (UC) is a rapidly increasing market which according to a Global Market Insights Report was valued at USD 34.8 billion in 2015 with revenue estimates of over USD 95 billion by 2023. UC brings together disparate communications streams such as instant messaging, email, audio and video conferencing, and IP telephone which can have many benefits including improved employee interactions, operational efficiencies as well as better customer experience so it is no surprise that more companies, big and small are opting for a UC solution in order to streamline their own operations.
While the benefits for adopting a UC strategy abound there are also a number of key considerations before giving it the green light:
- Organisational needs
Before making the decision to switch you must evaluate the needs of your organisation and ask yourself the following: What are the requirements of the different business groups, do you have multiple branches and regions to implement the solution across? Have you considered who will be responsible for controlling the implementation and the ongoing support both centrally and locally?
- Future growth
Often organisations spend a lot of time thinking about their current requirements but if you making a fundamental change that will impact processes company-wide you should ensure that your chosen platform is scalable and that it can integrate new acquisitions as well as being able to deliver new services if and when required. Furthermore, while traditional technologies remain the favoured forms of communication think about whether this might change. Enterprises are increasingly looking to integrate the use of video-conferencing and telepresence technologies so these should be considered too.
- Remote workforce
Research from the TUC found that over 2 million people across the UK work from home and as communication solutions grow and improve this figure is set to continue on an upward trend so consideration needs to be given to making reliable analytic and diagnostic capabilities available to drive better remote experiences for users. In deed remote employees are often using unsupported communications tools and measures need to be put in place around data security and maintaining compliance regulations.
- Security and privacy
While on the topic of data security it is inevitable that a large proportion of the data passing through your data, voice, video, and mobile applications, across both fixed and mobile networks will be of a confidential nature. As such precautions should be taken to ensure the data is protected against theft or interception and inspected to help ensure that it complies with policy.
A unified communications strategy should incorporate a comprehensive security strategy and allow people in any department, region or location to securely connect and collaborate across a broad range of communications applications while safe in the knowledge that their data and resources are secure and protected.
Training is often a topic that finds itself near the bottom of the priority list when deploying a new solution but to ensure the implementation of your new UC strategy runs smoothly, factor in training for every employee and nominate individuals across every department and region who will be responsible for fielding and solving any enquiries.
- Quality of service
When selecting your chosen provider, it is essential that you research both the reliability and quality of the services they are providing. Consider what happens if there is a drop in the service and ask what the process is for tracking and issues. How quickly do they troubleshoot and is there a timeframe for responding to customer issues? It’s worthwhile comparing data from several vendors to ensure that you get a true view of what you can expect.
- Integration into existing infrastructure
UC is the bringing together of many different applications to deliver more effective company-wide collaboration and the real challenge is how do you do this in the most time and cost effective manner? This is where you will need to question the expertise and capabilities of your chosen provider – what experience do they have? Have they worked in your sector before and can they provide evidence of a similar project which has been effectively delivered and is working well? These are all questions that your provider should be able to answer with confidence and if you are not comfortable with the response then you should consider alternatives.
- Cost effectiveness
As with any other major change project the capital expenditure is likely to be considerable at the beginning and this needs to be factored into the project. Meticulous planning and the inclusion of all possible costs will help to build a clear picture of the project. It is also worthwhile asking your chosen provider if they are able to support you in demonstrating projected cost savings in order to support your case for change by providing you with the ability to demonstrate the value or return on investment of the planned expenditure.
A well thought-out UC plan is sure to enable quicker execution and delivery of business processes with enhanced collaboration across organisations but the success of your project will be in the detail so be sure to factor in all considerations listed above. Should you require any further advice or guidance in selecting your unified communications strategy please call 0808 146 7000, email firstname.lastname@example.org