Industry talking to customers What's this? Making the smart choice: how to find the right communications solutions Published: May 19th, 2017 By: Suzanne Robicheau With smartphones and tablets increasingly the norm for business communication, and workplace flexibility an important tool in finding and retaining talent, organizations are looking to unified communications (UC) to leverage new ways of working. Once a matter of being in the right place at the right time, the new key to boosting business growth and improving productivity is being anyplace at any time with the right communications solutions.When faced with an aging communication infrastructure, dozens of different buildings requiring connectivity, and a growing number of off-campus locations, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario made the decision to move from a traditional voice-based system to a UC platform.“It was absolutely critical that our off-campus locations integrated seamlessly with our main site as our campus community stretches among several remote locations,” says Paula Brown-Hackett, McMaster’s Senior IT Manager of Enterprise Networks. “It was also essential that our off-campus locations maintained the ability to be independent in the case of emergencies at our main site.”McMaster leveraged an existing investment in their legacy Nortel platform, along with a small investment of new capital funding in order to provide users with an expanded feature set.“It was a no-brainer,” says Brown-Hackett. “As we continue with our migration and introduce more departments to the new features, we have had many inquiries from users eager to take advantage of reduced costs, improved workflow, new mobility options, and increased collaboration.”At the time of McMaster’s multi-phase deployment to migrate 10,000 licensed users, the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact was in the process of changing their operations by providing staff with the option to work from home and cut back on space required on-campus. The initial implementation required some challenging network configuration changes, but this department has come to rely heavily on the new Avaya soft phone client for their daily operations.“Being able to use their university extension numbers on cell phones and laptops has improved the user experience considerably,” says Brown-Hackett. “Rather than being tethered to their desk phones, users can now access their extensions from pretty much anywhere.”McMaster is in the mainstream when it comes to recognizing the need to transform their communications systems in order to deal with current challenges related to the virtual workplace. Gartner predicts (Forecast Analysis: Unified Communications, Worldwide, 1Q17 Update) global spending on unified communications will reach $42.9 billion by 2021, with cloud telephony and conferencing, as well as group video product support services, representing the most significant growth.As mobility requirements evolve, systems must also evolve, but how best to identify the most appropriate engagement environment to meet the needs of a growing organization in an on-demand world?A solution guide produced by Avaya details the critical components in an end-to-end communications environment that meets complex business requirements, eliminates infrastructure complexity, and gives organizations a solid IT-enabled competitive edge — at or below budget goals. Key features include scalability, mobility, customer service, investment protection, centralized web management, virtualization, networking and security.Organizations recognize that unified communications technologies are an essential part of the collaboration process and a key requirement in connecting users across multiple geographies. They see the need to drive growth and secure a competitive advantage. Yet, they sometimes fail to understand how to make the transition from their current situation to a reliable, robust UC system that aligns with their users and end strategy.The Avaya solution guide outlines eight things to consider in evaluating options for communications solutions that capitalize on global opportunities and help growing businesses adapt and evolve. From flexible deployment models and centralized web management to rich conference capabilities, reduced downtime, better protection, and integrated messaging, there’s a world of opportunity in unified communications.