Keeping Unified Communications Simple
This article was published by Telecom Reseller.
A Unified Communications (UC) cloud technology platform is considered a front-line toolset for enterprise competitiveness because it improves productivity and reduces the time employees, customers, and partners need to accomplish tasks. The beauty of this cloud technology is in its simplicity. Features are intuitive, making collaboration easier and faster than ever.
But the effortless ingenuity of UC is often sharply contrasted by a complex deployment process.
It’s very easy to overshadow the benefits of UC with a convoluted solution and complicated installation. With multiple components and numerous, disjointed communications systems and IT networks required for support, delivering a solution and service experience that’s as unified as the name suggests can often be difficult.
Here’s how to keep UC simple.
UC Impediments: Know Your Biggest Enemy
There are multiple factors involved when implementing and operating UC successfully. Most IT leaders focus on which tools, features, and technical requirements they need. This approach is correct, but it’s only half of the equation. Simple UC demands more than features. It requires easy and rapid implementation, as well as easy and rapid changes and updates. Most importantly, it demands the ability to manage the UC service performance in real time.
Simplicity’s biggest enemy is disconnected systems and people. UC solutions are typically composed of multiple parts that must be tightly integrated, tested, and proven. Plus, all parties involved (vendors, VARs, MSPs, consultants, and providers) must all closely collaborate.
UC Impediments: Solve the Visibility Problem
The problem for UC today is complexity for IT. It’s not uncommon for CIOs to have a range of different phones/devices that need to be supported as well as different PBX and contact center technologies operating over multiple networks and interacting with multiple cloud apps from different providers.
When it comes to ensuring perfect video conferences and crystal clear global communications, this fragmentation doesn’t make for good IT visibility. With a myriad of providers, networks, and devices, IT can’t effectively manage and troubleshoot communications systems and network performance. To make matters worse, many times the UC technology upgrade doesn’t solve the IT visibility problem. In fact, some solutions add another player/vendor/provider and layer of complexity to the already arduous puzzle, making problem solving even more incoherent.
Simplifying UC: Build a Single Cooperative for End-to-End Control
The fragmentation explains why forward-thinking leaders use the UC investment as an opportunity to unite critical communications systems into a single cooperative that enables IT transparency, simplifying ownership, and performance optimization. Executives who leverage cloud communications technologies to digitally transform and disrupt their industries typically take total ownership of three technology ecosystems:
- Corporate communications systems
- Contact center communications systems
- The IT network(s) that support all communications applications
A well-designed communications strategy triangulates the three ecosystems, providing real-time analytics and service control tools. Complete mastery of the UC environment allows executives to easily deliver perfection, because they can control the end-to-end IT architecture that supports communications. As a result, executives are empowered to ultimately protect the quality of all communications--delivering excellence for both the internal communications and the external customer experience.
Delivering Simple UC: Designs, Approaches, and Making Everyone Happy
What do IT teams need to reach this pinnacle of simplicity? There are best practices in strategy, design, and technical capacity. Let’s take a look at each.
Technical Capabilities for UC Simplicity
A single view of your entire network performance is the first requirement, as this removes visibility problems and assures performance issues are easily located and quickly resolved. Bandwidth utilization tools, application prioritization capabilities, and dynamic traffic routing abilities help put resources where they’re needed most. Communications and IT managers find that programming tools that allow them to proactively schedule bandwidth boosts during peak season or just before global video conferences are equally helpful. More importantly, these advanced tools reduce the distractions of network headaches, so executives and their teams can focus on innovation and digital transformation initiatives.
Design and Implementation Approaches that Support UC Simplicity
Beyond network ease-of-management, simplicity requires an approach that is seamless and customized for the IT environment, yet remains flexible enough to adjust to any unknowns in today’s digitally disruptive world. Solution flexibility is what helps CIOs avoid common implementation complexities. Here are some approaches that support simplicity:
- Hybrid Cloud Methods: Most enterprises can’t abandon their legacy communications systems, using a rip-and-replace approach. But they can combine their existing systems with UC cloud services to better balance cost and risk. Hybrid cloud deployment methods make this simple, giving CIOs a phased approach that works on their terms and their timeline. These hybrid techniques allow you to slowly migrate to the cloud one application and location at a time, reducing risk and demolishing barriers to entry.
- An All-Inclusive Approach: Given the work overload today, many CIOs prefer a fully managed UC service that includes dedicated resources for the program implementation and ongoing service management that covers the full spectrum. Most importantly, don't leave security as an add-on or afterthought. While managers and UC operators will quickly tell you they want real-time status information and easy troubleshooting, it’s easy to overlook the fact that they might also need assistance with network performance monitoring and security surveillance. A provider that represents across-the-board services and one throat to choke when problems surface makes not only the solution simpler but the customer experience far superior.
- Doing More with Fewer Partners: More vendors and providers equal added complexity that can often be avoided. Interoperability issues are reduced or eliminated with a UC solution that bundles or tightly integrates services, doing more with fewer partners. A small experienced team of leading players with wide-reaching capabilities can cover more ground in an integrated solution. In some scenarios, you’ll be able to narrow your list of key players to just two--typically the UC technology manufacturer and an all-encompassing IT services provider.
Making Everyone Happy with a Simple Solution
Part of simplicity is finding a solution that can meet the needs of customers, users, and executives alike--when in fact each of those groups wants something different. Satisfying everyone is simpler when your UC approach is comprehensive and can accommodate shifts in strategy--whether it’s switching from private to public network connectivity, getting new locations online quickly, or connecting a large list of devices and endpoints as part of an IoT initiative.
Satisfying the largest audiences is also easier when your communications service comes with guarantees (SLAs) that are consistent across the globe. Providers that can check all these boxes serve up a more unified solution that doesn’t ignore the needs of global enterprise continuity. Masergy serves as an example of one such provider. They offer fully managed UC solutions (UCaaS and CCaaS) coupled with a software-defined network platform specifically designed for real-time, worldwide communications. Plus, they cover your security needs with managed security services addressing both threat detection and response.
When you’re designing a simple, all-inclusive UC approach, don’t forget to look for strategic partnerships and providers that are certified or preferred by the UC technology manufacturer. These marks are the sign of the tightest integrations, which means these solutions are industry tested, trusted, and proven for mid-to-large enterprises. Additionally, network service providers focused on software-defined IT agility or SD-WAN will easily embrace your system modifications, allowing your enterprise to keep evolving on the digital transformation journey.
When change is constant, keep UC simple.
Contact Masergy today for a free solution design consultation that will simplify IT complexities.
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