Pomeroy IT Solutions on unified communications Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2008

How familiar are you with unified

communications (UC)? UC is in its

very early stages compared to many other technologies, but it is something

you should be considering and planning

for. Productivity can be enhanced,

employees can save time, and your firm

can save money.

“The sooner companies can establish

their UC system, the sooner they can start

reaping the benefits,” says Louie A. Belt,

internetworking principal at Pomeroy IT

Solutions. “Besides the benefits of productivity improvements, UC also enhances the way in which all employees

communicate.”

Smart Business spoke with Belt for

more of his insights into UC.

What is unified communications?

UC is an integration of applications that

create the unified workspace that allows

people to choose how, where and with

whom they wish to communicate. Major

components include IP telephony, messaging, conferencing and meetings, media

exchange, instant messaging, text messaging and setting calendars. With UC,

employees can work from anywhere they

need to be and be able to share information with anyone that needs to know.

There are applications that allow your cell

phone to effectively turn into a desk

phone when you walk into the office.

Why should I be interested in learning more

about UC?

If you are interested in improving your

company’s communications and profitability, using UC is a very good thing to

do. It is a platform to integrate business

applications with communications. There

are various factors to consider, and it is

important to put the proper planning into

what is going to work best for your business. Results documented by Sage

Research showed organizations using UC

saved an average of 32 minutes daily per

employee because presence technology

enabled staff to reach one another on the

first try. That was just one of the many

savings that they have documented.

What are the key factors that one should be

aware of concerning UC?

When evaluating your move into UC,

you need to look at your current business

practices. You need to determine how

these practices depend on communication and how you can leverage UC into

your practices. You need to know when to

modify business practices to take better

advantage of UC and where cost or time

savings will be realized.

As workers become more mobile and

work from various locations, UC becomes

even more important. UC allows you to

optimize time and resources effectively.

UC is business driven, and each case must

be evaluated on its individual merit.

What are some of the benefits of UC?

It is easier to access information. There

is the ability to reach mobile colleagues

and key decision-makers quickly. More

effective communications are realized.

You can experience on-demand collaboration. Essentially, when implemented

effectively, it results in employee time

savings and cost savings. Wherever

employees’ work takes them, they can work more effectively. With gas prices

what they are, there can be substantial

savings for everyone.

How do I make sure that I am obtaining the

best UC fit possible?

Review your current systems and take

on some pilots that could improve

processes for you. Proactively implement

the organization changes that anticipate

the technology and market changes. Plan

for the future. When evaluating, understand your company’s core strengths.

Understand your vendor’s core values

and know where they intend to go in the

future. There are a number of things to

evaluate when choosing vendors and

systems.

  1. Total cost of ownership — Looking

    not only at initial upfront costs but also

    looking at the real cost over the lifetime

    and the value of what is received for what

    is being spent.

  • Feature robustness — Consideration

    of scalability, flexibility and adaptability.

    Can it be reconfigured and changed? Also

    consider compatibility — will it work with

    other programs in your system? 

  • Business continuity — Survivability

    of system. Is it able to take hits to the system and allow you to continue business?

    Can it survive outages? 

  • Management and support — How

    easy is it to maintain? Can I handle internally or do I need to outsource? If so,

    what is the experience of the vendor’s

    development team and what are the support systems available? 

  • Complexity — How complex is the

    solution in terms of installation configuration, ease of maintenance and, most

    importantly, how easy is it for users to use

    and navigate?

  • LOUIE A. BELT is internetworking principal at Pomeroy IT Solutions. Reach him at (615) 351-6095 or lbelt@pomeroy.com.