Unified communications (UC) – in a nutshell, the ability for all types of communications devices to communicate seamlessly – is what the business world is working toward. The end result of reduced communication time to report on issues and receive decisions toward them is where businesses see the most benefit.
But, many businesses aren’t convinced that UC will be effective, according to a Forrester Research study. And, they want a triple-digit ROI if they implement UC. That’s a tall order when you are talking about integrating communications services, such as instant messaging, presence information, IP telephony and video conferencing with non real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax).
To get the right kind of return from UC, there are a few things that you must include when creating an easy-to-implement and effective framework. Going in, an agency should set the benchmark for success. Focusing on the communications needs of the agency and setting the correct expectation for what benefit will be derived from a potential UC solution is the first step.
Also, user training is critical not only for successful implementation, but also for widespread adoption of any UC solution. Investing in something that staff doesn’t know how to use is a sure way to kill any solution. A way to increase that success rate is to focus on reusing the skill set and software toolset that your employees are already familiar with. For example, you can use Outlook or Lotus Notes to schedule video resources, or Microsoft Office Communicator client to join a video conference to increase that success rate.
Technology interoperability issues that may present themselves can be mitigated by focusing on a standards based architecture and gateways for maximum interoperability. And, sizing the bandwidth of your communications needs upfront will ensure that you don’t oversubscribe your network. Lastly, building redundancy should help mitigate some of an organizations network challenges.
Setting a framework for your solution is the first step in getting to the vision of UC. Only with a solid foundation will an agency have a chance to realize the productivity return that can come from a solid UC solution.
Is your agency looking at UC? What steps are you taking to get there?