July 23, 2014

Advice for a Successful Unified Communications Implementation

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If you missed the Enterprise Connect event at the end of March, you can still catch up on at least one presentation, from Ed Wadbrook, vice president of applications and collaborative solutions at Carousel Industries. Carousel has posted a video with Ed delivering an early version of his presentation, titled Technology in Search of a Customer: Critical Factors to Consider for Your UC Strategy.

As we discussed in our preview of the presentation, Wadbrook cautions against adopting any unified communications technology for its own sake. You first need to ensure that it meets your business objectives and requirements.

The promise of UC pivots on improving how individuals, groups and communities perform and interact across multi-vendor environments, Wadbrook says. UC becomes the fabric that enables business process and workflows to integrate multiple forms of communications into common user, administrator and developer experiences.

Know the Business, Understand the Requirements

When Carousel arrives on the scene at a customer site, it doesn’t ask what technology the company wants; rather, it talks about the business objectives the company is trying to reach. What follows is a discussion of existing business model, processes and challenges, and a hard look at the various groups that are charged with delivering on the business objectives and how they are set up. Then you’ve got to consider your existing infrastructure and systems, including whether bring your own device is a consideration (even if IT doesn’t want it to be). Finally, you define key performance indicators and success metrics, Wadbrook says.

Wadbrook gives the example of an insurance company that wants a tablet-based application that will enable its 100 wealth management experts to present in front of customers. Delivering such an application requires a series of steps, including procuring the devices and registering them with the corporate directory. They also need to be brought into compliance with corporate policy with respect to virus and malware protection, firewalls and the like.

Next is a discussion with the end users around what kind of applications they want and need. That will likely entail some sort of video application, and one that needs to work not only point-to-point with other tablets, but with the company’s room-based and desktop systems. Another issue is where in the world the applications will be used and how employees plan to connect.

“Now you start to see the physical demand on the infrastructure,” Wadbrook says. Say there’s an internal conference at the company and 100 of these tablet-toting execs show up, expecting to conduct videoconferences over the corporate network. The group may well overwhelm the wireless network and adversely affect performance for all other employees.

Implementing UC Requires a Solutions-based Approach

The point is, companies need to have a full understanding of how UC technology will be used in their company before they even think about which technologies or products they will use. That’s because UC touches so many applications, people and issues; if you take a product-specific approach, you’re likely to miss many of them.

The insurer that wanted to implement tablets is a case in point, Wadbrook says. “That $499 device could require thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars of infrastructure support,” he says.

To download the PowerPoint deck from the presentation, click here.

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