Unified communications is now a part of almost every company’s technology stack. By seamlessly blending a collection of once-independent applications, UC solutions deliver the cohesive communication and collaboration capabilities necessary to support increasingly decentralized operations.
However, the continued evolution of UC technology creates an investment conundrum for many organizations. Will the platform you adopt today still meet your needs tomorrow?
UC has changed dramatically since the 1990s when unified messaging solutions first enabled voicemails, emails and faxes to be combined in a single inbox. Today, UC integrates numerous communication and collaboration technologies such as voice, video, instant messaging, presence and file sharing — and many more changes are on the horizon. For example, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will likely enable a range of highly immersive UC interactions in the near future.
One way many companies seek investment protection is with cloud-delivered UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions. UCaaS eliminates the need to purchase, maintain and upgrade servers, routers, gateways and other hardware. Instead, organizations get on-demand access to enterprise-grade resources delivered by a provider with specific expertise in communication and collaboration solutions.
UCaaS is not right for everyone, however. Many organizations prefer the enhanced control, customization and security capabilities enabled by on-premises deployments. On-prem UC also provides better integration opportunities with existing legacy systems and applications. Additionally, an on-premises solution can offer cost benefits by enabling year-over-year asset depreciation against tax liabilities.
Given the rapid pace of change within the industry, future-proofing UC can be challenging. Generally, it’s a good idea to assess and consider upgrading UC systems every three to five years to stay abreast of new capabilities and features. To ensure the solution you need will provide both the investment protection and functionality you need, consider these best practices:
1. Focus on Flexibility
Having a UC vendor capable of supporting both cloud-based and on-premises deployments offers significant advantages and flexibility. That will give you the option of choosing a hybrid deployment in which some services are hosted in the cloud while others are maintained in-house. This approach allows you to retain control over certain aspects of the UC infrastructure while taking advantage of the scalability, flexibility and cost savings of the cloud. For example, you might choose to have email and instant messaging services hosted in the cloud while keeping voice and videoconferencing on-prem.
2. Talk to Your Team
Engage with employees and key stakeholders to understand their communication and collaboration challenges, pain points and workflow requirements. Use surveys, interviews, focus groups and feedback sessions to gather insights into their current tools and identify areas for improvement. Analyze workflows to understand the types of tools and features that would help enhance business processes.
3. Use It or Lose It
No matter what deployment model you choose, UC won’t work if your employees don’t embrace it. It is critical to clearly communicate how UC can enhance collaboration, efficiency and flexibility in their day-to-day work. Work with your vendor to develop comprehensive training programs with user guides and access to support resources.
4. Find a Knowledgeable Partner
Implementing UC does present some challenges. For example, real-time voice and video technologies introduce new demands on networks designed for “best-effort” delivery of data packets. It may also require reconfiguring routers, switches and firewalls to prioritize voice and video traffic. A managed services provider (MSP) that understands the challenges can be a valuable partner in evaluating, implementing, managing and securing UC solutions.
IronLogix is here to help you select the right UC platform and maximize your investments now and in the future. Give us a call to schedule a no-obligation consultation.