Unified communications systems can prove transformative to your business. However, finding the right tools for your specific needs and supporting the underlying technologies needed to put those solutions in place is a complex matter. The challenge is well worth tackling as a modern UC system can:
- Reduce travel costs by allowing for powerful videoconferencing capabilities.
- Keep employees engaged by creating more personal means for corporate communications.
- Foster collaboration as the ability to work together is built more naturally into everyday operations.
- Bring data from diverse systems into communications apps and services so users can interact more effectively and create positive customer experiences.
All of these business gains can be at your fingertips if you’re willing to invest strategically in UC solutions that are well aligned with your specific operational needs. There is plenty to think about when overhauling your UC infrastructure, and managed services providers can help you evaluate all of your options and choose the right technologies. However, you still need to understand yourself in order to take advantage of the technology and industry expertise of MSPs. Three issues that are essential for you to consider include:
“You need to understand yourself in order to take advantage of the expertise of MSPs.”
1. How is your network performing as of now?
Voice and video traffic is incredibly susceptible to performance problems if the network is not capable of moving data packets in a timely fashion. From a tech perspective, the problem here is fairly straightforward. Ethernet networks drop data packets when there isn’t enough bandwidth to handle the volume of information moving through the network at a given moment. Those packets are automatically resent, leading to an extremely slight delay. The problem is that voice and video traffic are unable to withstand being dropped without performance degradation for end users.
Solutions including multi-protocol label switching infrastructure, Quality of Service solutions and other routing optimization technologies can help you avoid these problems as you implement video and voice functionality on your network. However, even these options may not be enough for offices dealing with large amounts of traffic from voice and video sources. Having a clear understanding of how your network is performing prior to an unified communications investment can help you identify if you will need a network upgrade to support your new technologies. MSPs can help you identify the best ways to invest in your network from there.
2. What specific problems do you need to solve?
Managing large-scale projects is often difficult because the size of the initiative can distract from the core problems that need to be solved. A few key issues are probably driving your UC upgrade decision. This can take the form of specific business concerns such as remote workers not feeling connected to the rest of the organization or technology problems that are making your existing system difficult to deal with. Either way, identifying the specific issues you are trying to solve is critical, and you need to stay rooted in these issues over the course of the project. You may eventually have to compromise something while trying to balance technology capabilities with budget limitations, but if you stay connected to your key problems you’ll be well set up to end up with a valuable solution.
3. Are you covering the basics?
The unified communications industry is a fairly exciting sector. It is filled with technologies that would have come across as science fiction a few years ago. Even some of the more mundane solutions represent solutions to key problems that end users have had to deal with for what seems like ages. All of this functionality can drive excitement, and it’s great to see technologies that are so powerful that you get passionate about them. Don’t let that energy come between you and the basics.
Regardless of what functions and features you are putting in your UC system, you must ensure that:
- Call, chat and video performance is stellar and consistent across the board for your users.
- Sound quality on speaker phones and similar tools used in conference rooms is high enough to ensure workers can easily communicate.
- Apps and devices are intuitive to use and won’t present an extended learning curve.
- The system architecture offers you enough flexibility that you don’t get locked into highly specific ways of interacting with the technology.
These basics may sound like pretty straightforward considerations – and they are – but some UC solutions will focus heavily on excellence in one area and drop the ball in another. MSPs can help you move toward a best-of-breed approach to UC deployment, allowing you to pick and choose solutions based on your needs, not branded hardware packages, ensuring you cover the basics.
A large-scale UC project can be a significant burden for a company to take on. However, staying rooted to the underlying factors that impact your system – including your network, the problems you need to solve and the basic functions of a UC setup – will help you make the right choices.