Unified Communications

5 Considerations for a Unified Communications Strategy

Brett Harney Unified Communications

Unified CommunicationsUnified Communications (UC) is the way of the near future. A mobile and interconnected workforce has been proven to enhance productivity, increase your ROI, and reduce the headaches of limited scalability that came with traditional communication systems. When moving to a Unified Communications approach, a thorough plan that considers both the technology and the human elements of your business is crucial. Here are 5 recommendations, from UCInsight.com, on how to best develop your implementation strategy:

1. Work from the user backwards

Your end users are the best indicator for which communication and collaboration tools will be the most useful to them. Look at those they are already using – even, or especially, if they are not part of your current, formal communications setup. Staff may be using particular apps and/or their own devices if they find those more appropriate to communicate with customers, suppliers and business partners.  Your findings will determine if a single vendor UC solution will be sufficient for your organization or whether a best-of-breed UC ecosystem is the way forward to meet your staff’s communication needs.

2. Allow time for technology discovery and learning

Make sure to make enough time to understand your end users’ needs, how UC will benefit your user community, identify which platform matches these requirements, and how your choice UC platform operates. From my technology discovery and consultancy workshops with clients I know that this learning process can take several weeks. That’s perfectly fine because communications solutions bring with them their own challenges that IT service teams may not always be expertly familiar with. A good grasp of the different UC technologies, technical requirements and deployment options available will help to make better decisions in building a UC environment that will benefit your business in the long term.

3. Infrastructure readiness

With presence, messaging, conferencing, document sharing and rich media collaboration tools your network will certainly be hit with an extra load. Servers, routers and data connections all need to be able to handle increased traffic, particularly if you are planning to add more users onto the system at a future point in time. Security infrastructure, LAN/ WAN and Wi-Fi requirements will also need to be assessed. After all, it’s about getting the best possible performance out of your UC applications.

4. Multi-vendor interoperability

If you are building a UC ecosystem that uses technologies from multiple vendors, it is particularly important to ensure that all components interweave seamlessly. A good example of this is when an organization has taken their MS office to the cloud or Google Docs.  Unified Communications can integrate contacts and email with a phone system (premise based or hosted).  This can be used for seeing who is on the phone, click to dial, instant messaging, video calling, or desktop sharing.  All are components that use both phone systems as well as an organization’s software.

5. Business Process Integration

It is worth considering early on whether there are any business processes that could benefit from the integration of existing, process-specific systems with communications applications.

In the retail environment, for example, this could take the form of CRM and inventory stock database integration to allow customer service agents to access both customer and product information (within the store, office or the contact center) in real-time to assist a sale and personalize customer interactions.

In the housing sector, the UC system could be connected to tenant and property databases as well as payment systems to offer self-service options to tenants, streamline communications with suppliers and field staff, and automate communications related to specific tenant transactions.

The point is that communications enabled business processes support the real-time enterprise, increase productivity and reduce human latency where tasks used to be accomplished manually or formerly required a whole series of tasks.

Tight integration between the UC environment and existing back office systems is a far cry from plug-and-play, as you can imagine, which is why you would be well served to consult with a professional services provider to identify how different UC components could improve business processes to meet company goals.

If you want to learn more about the benefits a Unified Communications integration can provide your business, contact the experts at Corporate Technologies Group today. Or read the Unified Communications White Paper for a primer on what UC is, as well as the challenges and benefits it creates below.

Download the Unified Communications White Paper