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
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
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
- 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.
of scalability, flexibility and adaptability.
Can it be reconfigured and changed? Also
consider compatibility — will it work with
other programs in your system?
of system. Is it able to take hits to the system and allow you to continue business?
Can it survive outages?
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?
solution in terms of installation configuration, ease of maintenance and, most
importantly, how easy is it for users to use
LOUIE A. BELT is internetworking principal at Pomeroy IT Solutions. Reach him at (615) 351-6095 or firstname.lastname@example.org.