As the world becomes ever more connected, there are many organizations all over the world look at the benefits of using a unified communications or UC solution. A UC solution allows you to connect to your organization via instant messaging, voice or video from anywhere in the world. UC solutions use a set of tools to connect your collaborative environment to the company network and to anyone who is connected to that network.
While this might sound like a simple exercise, the ability to make all of the components work together is not actually that easy. There are many different pieces of technology that need to work together to bring a UC platform to an organization. However, there is some good news and this is the fact that successful UC deployment can be done if you know the right steps to take.
Cross Functional Input
Before you start looking at UC platforms and who you want to connect to, you have to realize the scale of the deployment. UC deployment is a large project and will generally change the way that staff operate current communications. It is important that you not decide to roll out UC solutions in a vacuum.
This does not mean that you should be getting consensus from every aspect of the business. It means that you need to consider what your most important communication needs are and how personnel cope with this. When you do this first you will find that the rest of the stages are more manageable.
The increased availability of bandwidth has been a major game changer. In the past, the idea that hundreds of calls could be handled on VoIP was questionable at best. However, with the introduction of fiber which offers up to 25 times more bandwidth than T1, bandwidth is more available than ever. This means that the options you have for your UC are limitless.
It is important that you consider the availability of bandwidth early in your deployment. You need to consider the bandwidth you have currently, and what you are able to get in the future. The more bandwidth the more powerful your solutions might be.
It is important to note that bandwidth needs to be coupled correctly with Quality of Service or QOS on the routers of each of your sites. QOS allows the prioritization of certain applications such as calls so any inconsistencies in your internet connect will not affect the quality of your calls. Bandwidth is not the only factor is good communication systems as system configuration needs to be done correctly to leverage the bandwidth available.
BYOD Or Bring Your Own Device
Something to consider is whether you will be support devices that are not company issued. BYOD is a hot topic as many younger workers are looking to use their generally more powerful personal devices to increase the productivity of their workplace. While this means that more work can be done, it does cause a headache for technology leaders. If you will cover these devices then you have to consider the security implications as well and any policies you have in place.
Most companies have the desire for high levels of security, but you need to seriously consider what the security needs of your company are. If you are dealing with sensitive data you might need higher security for legal reasons than a company that does not. Some security needs may force your company to use a private cloud server instead of a hybrid or shared server.
You also need to consider whether you will need to secure UC hardware on site. If you do then the vendors you contact will be very different to the ones offering cloud services.
Where your employees are location plays a large role in your system and the deployment. The bandwidth and BYOD section of your solution will be affected by the distribution of your staff. For deployment you will also need to consider who works with minimal requirements as the person with the oldest machine needs to be able to use the solution as well as everyone else.
Another point to consider is the expense on SIP or Session Initiation Protocol which is a control protocol for creating, modifying and ending sessions. SIP is what enables calls over your IP to be connected and disconnected. The sessions will cover voice calls, multimedia conferences and multimedia distribution.
If your company does business globally the SIP origination can have a large impact on your costs. Increased costs come from needing to have trunks which allow the call to originate at different locations.
Mobility in the workplace is also important because the world has moved away from virtual private networks. It is important that your staff are able to access what they need to at different locations. More and more companies are looking at mobile tools to help with this and these tools need to be a core consideration for your UC deployment.
Your Technology Partners
There are a lot of UC providers out there as UC is a huge technology umbrella. There are the market leaders such as Cisco, IBM and Microsoft, but there are also smaller providers. The smaller providers often have more affordable and flexible solutions on offer.
When you look for a partner to deploy your UC solution you have to consider all of your technical needs from security to mobility. You should then consider partners who can meet these needs and the budget that you have for the deployment. However, you do not have to stay with one provider for all aspects of your UC solution.
There are many companies that offer the best solution for security or Route/Switch that suit your business. If you find that these companies have the right solution for you try aligning with them instead of the company that tries to cover everything at a moderate success rate. The UC solution you deploy has to work for your business, not for the technology companies you are going to be using.
There are many points to consider when looking at UC solutions. It is important that you know all of your needs before you start looking at partners for your program. You also have to ensure that everyone in your company is able to handle the new system.