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April 9, 2015

5 avoidable bumps on the road to Unified Communications

Find out what TalkTalk Business, ShoreTel, MeetingZone, Glue Reply, Timico have to say.

By Alexander Sword

Unified Communications seems simple enough in principle, but can throw up all kinds of hazards when it comes to the actual implementation. What are the main challenges enteprises face? CBR rounded up some industry experts to voice their views.

Bandwidth

Jon Nowell, Head of Product Management at TalkTalk Business, said:

"The fact that Unified Communications (UC) can deliver a strong ROI is clear, but ultimately, it’s only as good as the network it operates on. It’s essential IT departments thoroughly assess the network before migration to ensure it has the sufficient agility, resiliency and bandwith to manage the increased volume of data. Too often, all the focus is placed on the user interface of UC, to the detriment of investigating current network capacity; underestimating the convergence of voice and data networks and integration with the service provider network is a large and costly error.

"But a smooth implementation is not enough: it is crucial that continual assessment is made on network performance to ensure it is coping with the new system, and costly outages do not occur. When it comes to UC, IT should think of their network as fuel – just as car’s fuel intake is fundamental to its performance, it also requires constant monitoring, regular review and assessment is essential for a successful system."

It’s about the culture

Steve Gandy, CEO of MeetingZone, commented:

"Start with the basics. This isn’t just about what technical solution to deploy. Business leaders in any organisation have to create a culture that embraces new ways to work collaboratively before any UC solution will deliver any improvements in efficiency and effectiveness across all the regions in which they operate. Sadly too many organisations pay for the technology which isn’t backed by the management team so their UC adoption is doomed to failure.

"Once this culture is established, effective roll out and training needs to take place so that users really understand how to get the best from the technology. This requires a bit of carrot and sometimes a lot of stick."

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No time like the present

Oliver Neuberger, associate partner at Glue Reply, added:

"First and foremost, architects tasked with delivering UC Networks need to design for agility, and not try and design too far ahead into the future. It would be a mistake to design a large monolithic architecture designed to address the Unified Communications challenges as we see them now. What we mean by "Unified Communications" continues to evolve."

Walk, don’t run

Keith Bartlett, EMEA Director Business Development, Distribution & Inside Sales, ShoreTel

"Trying to run before you can walk is another avoidable trap. UC integrations can be complicated, integrating voice services to federated presence engines, WFM, CRM and ERP systems. It is prudent to deploy UC across your organisation gradually, ensuring each stage is well-integrated and adopted by your employees. This way, you will derive a great ROI and benefit fully from the UC deployment, thus driving the business improvement for your organisation you so desire."

Be prepared to scale

Gemma Jankiewicz, Product Manager at Timico

"Scalability is another area where many businesses fall short. If your business expands, can you increase capacity? Some traditional systems can only support a set number of calls at one time and increasing this can prove a lengthy and costly process. Also, consider your phone system functions; do you need to be able to transfer calls or require call recording? Or do you need an Auto-Attendant or Interactive Voice Response (IVR) so customers can ‘press 1 for sales, 2 for support’? All of these can effect call quality and increase call charges across UC networks."

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