Managing an IT organization in these uncertain economic times is not an easy task. However, technology continues to advance. In fact, it can provide sound solutions to IT departments facing budget constraints that still have a need for more efficiency and streamlined operations.
“Not only do new communication technologies provide ways to consolidate IT infrastructure, but managed and hosted solutions offered by service providers allow IT departments to replace capital expenditures with monthly service fees,” says Bill Capraro, President and CEO of CIMCO Communications.
Smart Business asked Capraro what technology trends to expect in 2009 and how to implement new solutions.
What technology trends do you see for 2009?
Every company needs voice and data service to operate daily. It’s just as important as having electricity. However, IT departments will be asked to find solutions that drive efficiency and provide significant cost savings to the company’s bottom line. The latest technology trends bring together your IT functions by converging voice and data services into one solution, providing not only better technology but also the cost efficiencies that every executive team is expecting. That’s why the theme for 2009 is the consolidation and unification of communications. Two technologies that are not new, but are being widely adopted in an effort to consolidate services, are Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
How are these technologies benefitting businesses?
By converging voice and data traffic onto one IP-based network, MPLS becomes the foundation on which all future applications ride. MPLS connects multiple locations and acts as a traffic manager on a flexible network where voice traffic gets priority and data traffic is prioritized according to business needs. By moving to this solution, an IT department has consolidated services while implementing next generation technology and eliminating the need for separate voice and data circuits.
Here’s an example of how the benefits of MPLS could be applied in a real situation. A nonprofit association had 28 locations and needed to consolidate all locations on one network and upgrade voice and data services due to increasing traffic. It installed MPLS at all locations so data could be transferred and shared faster and simultaneously on a private, secure network with 24-7-365 monitoring. By converging voice and data on one platform, the organization consolidated all its services to one solution and was able to proactively monitor the activity of 28 locations. It also provided a backbone that gave this organization flexibility to easily scale and expand in the future, as new needs developed and technologies became available.
The next step is laying various applications, such as VoIP, over the MPLS foundation. A VoIP solution can either utilize existing phone equipment or be equipment free and completely managed by the service provider. Many times, VoIP can also provide significant savings and value through features such as free local and interoffice calling. The company’s needs determine the solution and both options can provide future proof technology and cost efficiencies at the same time.
How do you see the economy impacting the adoption of these technologies in 2009?
It’s natural that spending will slow down and the deployment of new technologies will decrease. Ceasing all technology investments during a recession may not be wise if it prevents your business from maintaining or moving into a leadership role when the economy begins to turn around. Enterprises facing dated technologies at the end of their life cycles will have to cautiously invest in replacement technologies. Remember that smart investments provide both short- and long-term benefits.
How can technology service providers assist during these challenging times?
Use your provider to your advantage. Ask for a complete analysis of your communications network. Technology service providers have experts to assist IT departments in identifying solutions for immediate implementation and solutions that would be more beneficial long term. You may want to explore managed and hosted communications services, which have monthly services fees that help avoid excess capital expenditures. Providers may also offer more flexibility, particularly in the type of payment options. If you have a critical need and can make the investment with some financing help, explore all possible options of financing, leasing or a hybrid of the two.
What advice can you offer IT managers for the coming year?
If you can’t afford to implement the best solutions right now, avoid a quick-fix solution just to get by. Develop long-range plans so your company is ready to respond to market demand quickly when the economy rebounds. Consider outsourcing, not only for staffing needs if you’ve been forced to decrease talent, but also for the infrastructure for communications services.
BILL CAPRARO is President and CEO of CIMCO Communications, based in the Chicago metropolitan area. Reach him at (630) 691-8080 or firstname.lastname@example.org.