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Unified Communications (UC) Deployment – an insight

UC or Collaboration deployments are no one-shot games and definitely not a one-man show. Decisions that follow processes such as techno-economic feasibility, functional prioritization, overall compatibility check & future growth checks and mostly operational and business implications involve team participation and so it is not a straight top-level resolution. The whole process of planning, deployment and administration must involve several functions including IT & Operations mangers and other business experts. Strategic conceptualization and deployment that serves the business objectives & milestone goals optimally are chalked-out best when progressed up the ladder in proper sync.

The Correct Method:UC deployment is a transformation decision that demands a clear vision directly addressing the core business motivation and objectives. With a process focused approach, the integration might as well reflect positively on an organization’s service capabilities, business strategy and its customers’ experience – besides an impressive balance sheet of course! On the other hand, any collaboration or unification initiative is unlikely to succeed unless it surmounts a direct business obstacle. In a nutshell, the underlying principle for unification or collaboration in any business must be driven by the business needs rather than technological.

Admittedly, there is no one right way; only a broad preferable approach – the one that lays sufficient stress upon a recognizable strategy to drive and deliver specific business value. For that matter, identifying the unification of communication channels as a Business Asset in the first place may result in intelligent decisions and thus make an appropriate approach!

Common yet futile integration approach today among businesses is “brick-by-brick”, where in only a few specific applications are utilized in mostly an incoherent manner and whatever comes out of it is misconstrued as UC. It must be understood that unified communications is all about the experience wherein the user is empowered to reach the subject irrespective of the channel or the necessity to have known the channel in advance in order to save aborted attempts through automation or elimination. The same is more likely to be achieved by unification on and through compatible, IP-intelligent and converged networks that are both receptive & complementary to the convergence atmosphere.

Vendor or Vendors:Although it may offer seemingly easy management, given today’s industry scenario, single vendor strategy is generally not to be found. Reasons are several, namely, the lack of open-standard product portfolios or integration expertise among vendors and the unlikelihood of one-stop & all-in-one pack deployments owing to the ensuing depletion of existing infrastructure. Multiple vendor UC strategy, in contrast, gives the advantage of choice today unlike yesterday’s standardization-for-no-frills approach. Depending upon the compatibility, interoperability and level of integration, one may pick and choose the best-of-breed specks from the best vendors – similar to a configured personal computer as compared to the branded one. But then, one has to be prepared with the expertise to ensure that all such products and solutions can interoperate well as one.

Infrastructure:In order to minimize costs involved and to streamline the UC rollout; selection of a robust VoIP infrastructure is a common pre-requisite. Almost in every case, it is equally desirable to begin the convergence initiative with getting in place a secure IP Network that complements the implementation. Due diligence must be exercised to make certain that the network and other components attend to the technicalities of both the existing and planned convergence environment. Insufficient IP infrastructure may hamper the rollout at a later stage. Where as the right network and hardware guarantees cost-effective and easier implementation with the ability of transition and upgrade.

The author drives Communications for Siemens Enterprise Communications, India.

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