Unified communications (UC) strategies have become a requirement for businesses to maintain a competitive advantage.
Communication has become more difficult in most enterprises because teams don’t always work in the same office. Additionally, collaboration is more critical in today’s business environment than ever before.
If you’re ready to tackle unified communications, the must-have components described below will prepare you to develop a successful strategy.
Educate Your UC Team on the Technology and Benefits
Start by reviewing the unified communications technology that is available and the benefits you can obtain from using it. This will give you a foundation for determining what technology you need for your specific requirements.
You’ll need base technologies such as VoIP. Another primary application is presence, the technology that makes it possible to identify a device immediately when a user accesses a network, regardless of its location. Also, include a review of the current status of conferencing and email technologies.
Reviewing emerging technology such as communications-enabled business processes is critical. This technology can optimize business processes that are software-enabled by integrating them with communications capabilities. As a result of that integration, real-time communication is possible among customers, suppliers , nd employees.
The most critical benefit your team needs to look for in these technologies is improved collaboration. With UC, enterprises can reduce costs and improve business outcomes. It’s important to remember that the improvement of business outcomes is the key benefit, even before cost savings.
Create a Vision
Gathering information from the current and potential users of UC needs to come before preparing a business case for implementing the technology. One of the worst mistakes you can make while preparing a UC strategy is to plan to acquire technology in search of a problem. Implementing UC isn’t a simple technical issue.
UC will change how people in the organization work, and how they work with others. Find out how people are communicating and how they could or should be communicating. There are times when things that should be communicated aren’t addressed, and UC is the opportunity to resolve that problem.
In short, don’t assume that employees know how what they do affects others.
You need to identify the problems you’re trying to solve before moving forward. When you create the vision, make sure to include people with different perspectives to get as clear a picture of requirements as possible.
Document what you’ve discovered as you create the vision. It’s all too common that the fast pace of business makes it easy to forget documentation. However, you’ll need to document the reasons behind the vision so that it makes sense to everyone as the project progresses.
Justify the Vision
There is so much interest in UC, it might seem that a justification is unnecessary. It’s true that UC can help maintain or improve a competitive edge, but it needs to make sense in your organization. In fact, in many ways, the business case for UC needs to be even more exacting than that done for other projects. Since UC will have an impact on the workplace, you’ll want to have a strong case to justify the interim disruption it will cause.
Review Where You Are and Where You Want to Go
Every organization will have a different starting point, depending on how sophisticated the existing communications are. Some organizations may be using some pieces of UC, while others are burdened with an antiquated telephone system. Therefore, your UC strategy needs to include a clear path that will lead you from your current state to the one you’re targeting. This review should consider:
- All the new technology you could use to reach your UC goals: That should include technologies such as a Wide Area Network and virtual desktops, in addition to the obvious components like telephone systems and local area networks.
- Current systems integration: Look for ways to leverage your existing systems by determining where integration with new systems is possible.
- Meeting long-term requirements: You need to avoid investing in systems that won’t be an effective part of your long-term goals.
- Obtaining internal support: You can improve adoption by being able to explain the strategy to all levels within the organization. Thay way, you can get buy-in across the organization.
This review needs to consider the widest range of technology and strategy available. For example, make sure that you determine whether cloud services will make your strategy the most valuable. In addition, the strategy should give the same benefits to employees working in the office and those working on a mobile device. True collaboration will only be possible if you offer mobile collaboration.
Make Sure It’s Unified
One of the pitfalls when creating a UC strategy is failing to plan for a transformational change that is the promise of UC. One of the most common shortfalls is not integrating UC technologies with telephone systems. That integration is the only way that UC technology will appear seamless to the user.
In today’s business world, employees expect to be able to work from any location without worrying about which device they’re using. Integrating telephony and UC technology is the only way to provide that type of consistent interface.
Avoid a Strategy That Restricts Change
As with any new technology, you know that the available solutions are going to evolve while you’re in the middle of implementing your UC strategy. Consider the lifespans of your existing technology when setting your strategy. Don’t do anything that would prevent you from taking advantage of significant advances as they happen.
…and Where AnchorSix Comes In
Unified communications offers your organization a type of transformation that will have long-ranging benefits. The more you focus on getting your UC strategy right, the greater the opportunity for your organization to see a significant increase in the quality of your business outcomes.
We’re experts at helping businesses set up strategic, successful UC environments within their business. Partnering with us gives you access to experts that know their stuff, and can help you unlock the benefits of UC while mitigating any risk and challenges along the way.
Interested in learning more? Let’s have a conversation.