Over the past couple of posts, I’ve focused on how businesses are rarely in a steady state these days, and where UC can help. If you believe that order eventually emerges out of chaos, then UC is definitely part of the solution. Of course, some businesses actually prefer – and thrive – on chaos, and being unified is the last thing on their minds. This is typically the domain of high creativity or really poorly run businesses, but they’ll never use UC, so let’s move on.
To get back to business-as-usual with UC, you have to understand the landscape to find the right solution for your environment. Vendors such as this blog’s sponsor, ADTRAN, approach UC with a mix of hardware and software. Some vendors take a software-only approach, while others rely mostly on the cloud with as little being premise-based as possible. This can be a difficult field to navigate, but if you do your homework, the results will be worthwhile.
As a matter of course, you will need to evaluate the various technologies, but that’s a separate and much longer conversation. It’s fair to say that most all the vendors you would consider have the core technology under control for UC, and in some cases, the key consideration is how well their solution can scale across your entire network. Getting beyond that, every vendor has their secret sauce, and that’s where the real work begins. Some will excel with a specific application such as video or a value-added capability like FMC – fixed mobile convergence. Others will have a strong vertical focus such as the contact center or industry sectors like healthcare, education, hospitality, etc.
While all this needs to be done, let’s turn things around to focus on the problems. UC comes in many shapes and sizes, and I have no doubt there is an ideal solution out there for your business. Before you can get to that, though, what does business-as-usual look like for your business, and what is it really like today?
Given the horizontal nature of communications, UC can – and should – touch every aspect of your business. This means you must take a holistic view of your operations. IT is usually the driver for UC, and it’s easy to view things just from that lens. That may have worked well for telephony, which is a pretty passive technology living on its own island. UC, however, is about integrating communications applications and using them in a proactive way to make the organization more agile.
IT can certainly do what’s right for the network with UC, but that’s a pretty limited vision. Executive management is more interested agility, and making both people and processes more productive. They may not know it, but that’s exactly what UC is built to do, and can go a long way to getting back to that business-as-usual steady state everyone wishes for.
This is a very powerful mandate for IT to fulfill, but you’ll be flying blind if you focus too much on the technologies and how UC will work with your network. To find out what that steady state could look like, you must get to the problems and root causes. You need to go beyond IT’s everyday purview and look to what makes the business hum. There are many approaches you can take – some highly structured and others simple and informal – and once you figure out a plan, then the most important work begins.
Some businesses have the resources to do this internally, but many usually need an outside party, which could very well include UC vendors or the affiliated community of consultants and channel partners. The main idea here is to work from the inside-out to identify operational problems that can be fixed or improved with enhanced communications capabilities.
By taking an organizational-wide approach, you’ll very likely discover a deeper set of problems that IT has not been able to address without UC. The closer you can get to root causes, the more effective UC is going to be – not just because of its overall impact, but also because this will allow you to make better decisions to choose the right UC solution. I’ll continue this train of thought in my next post, where root causes will be examined more closely.