For enterprises exploring the possibilities of Unified Communications, knowing which way to turn and where to begin can be confusing. If UC really is as simple and easy-to-use as it is made to seem, implementation should be as quick as plug’n’play, right? And in that case, turning directly to the software editor would seem not only logical, but highly economic. In reality, the deployment of a technology as all-encompassing as UC is not only complex but extremely delicate considering that it can affect most to all of a company’s communication channels – telephony; web, video and audio conferencing; VoIP; email and chat. Even at the most basic level, a successful UC roll out hinges upon much more than just implementation. Strategy consulting, Professional Services, legacy systems integration, technical and end-user support, hosting and infrastructure management are where expert Service Providers demonstrate their added value, ensuring that a company’s UC solution is not only well deployed but is also adopted internally and extracts a maximum Return On Investment (ROI).
So what exactly does a UC Service Provider do and how do they add value to your company?
1. A strategy for now and for the future
The value of working with a Service Provider to implement a UC system begins at the pre-planning phase. Understanding exactly how a company’s existing communication infrastructure will be positively and negatively impacted by the addition of UC is not always obvious; but a skilled consulting team will help navigate the waters, assessing a company’s requirements, usage profiles, future hardware purchases, network capabilities and overall project feasibility. Instead of automatically pushing a 360° UC “big bang” approach, a good Service Provider will develop a bespoke strategy meant to maximize ROI on a long-term scale and help businesses achieve their collaboration and productivity goals without over-promising.
2. Take the infrastructure strain away
Whether leaning toward an on-premise or hosted delivery model, a Service Provider’s network, technical platforms, data centers and server capabilities are added value that companies utilize to ensure continuity of service. Infrastructure concerns like network redundancy, data center surveillance, a dispersed architecture, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and technical partners are automatically handled by Service Providers, saving companies considerable cost and eliminating infrastructure complexities. Even for those large and/or security-conscious companies that opt for an on-premise model, partnering with a leading Service Provider adds a layer of flexibility that is exceptionally difficult to match. For example, outfitting a subsidiary that has limited or no IT support with the same UC system can be done seamlessly and cost-effectively on a Service Provider’s infrastructure. On-premise solutions can be extended as company needs grow, with additional modules being added from the Service Provider’s Private Cloud network rather than installing a new on-site server and increasing internal IT resources.
3. Design that works for your company
When it comes to the Design phase of implementation, a Service Provider’s Professional Services are of utmost importance. Without an internal team capable of overseeing the technical roll out of a system as multi-faceted as UC, companies can get lost and overly-frustrated at the time it takes to get through planning. At this stage, Professional Services design a high-level, custom recommendation based on a company’s unique communication needs, taking into account any technical limitations and providing consulting on an evolving UC strategy.
Continue to part II for more on how Service Providers provide tremendous value in the deployment and implementation of Unified Communications.