Ever-developing technologies are causing business communications for today’s organizations to undergo rapid transformations. Developing an understanding of the basis of this shift can provide you with key insight into how to effectively leverage new technologies and build a business case for deploying Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) within your organization. UC&C has evolved over the last five years, with many manufacturers offering different solutions and delivery methods. From this evolution three main options have arisen: a fully hosted solution, an adjunct attachment to an existing PBX or IP PBX and a fully integrated all-in-one premise based solution.
So how do you view UC&C? Keep in mind that it should not be recognized as a specific product, but more as an integration of services and or an ongoing modular strategy that can be implemented or phased in over a defined period of time. The evolution of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) has evolved from basic features such as Unified Messaging, Presence and IM to an ever expanding set of new capabilities. UC&C provides many distinct functions and services, and thus should not be viewed as a single capital expense, but as an operational investment over time. In this case, consider your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) rather than your Return on Investment (ROI), as you would with other purchases.
A complete UC&C solution consists of a number of elements that provide users with a truly unified experience, enabling them to communicate in a timely and productive manner specific to their roles in the organization. These elements are generally categorized into 3 main categories. Let’s identify and describe these categories to determine which makes the better business case for your organization’s needs:
- Core Foundational Elements: This category includes a Multi-Service Network, VoIP, and Pervasive Presence
- Traditional UC Elements: This includes Unified Messaging/Voicemail/Fax, Text Chat/IM, Audio/Web Collaboration, and Video Conferencing
- Emerging Elements: Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP), Mobility (Fixed Mobile Convergence), Mass Notification, and Social Media/Federation
Which category suits your organization’s needs? Do you fit strictly into one, or an overlap of multiple? In the next post we will further examine and focus on a current emerging trend in UC&C, which is to provide all of the above mentioned elements in a completely integrated software-based solution approach, thus allowing UC&C to be deployed in a more flexible and modular manner. This deployment will in turn give organizations more control in determining which solution elements they want to utilize across their company to best suit their needs.